Joseph Douglas McGirr on the first day of his jury trial in the Christchurch District Court.
“This is a tragic accident and it is really sad. She was a really good girl. I never meant for any of this to happen. She just fell asleep in the pool.”
That was the explanation Joseph Douglas McGirr, 39, gave police in a written statement hours after American polo player Lauren Biddle, 22, was found lifeless in the spa pool at his Christchurch home on October 22, 2018.
McGirr is charged with supplying a class B drug to Biddle and her friend Guy Higginson, and perverting the course of justice.
On Monday he pleaded not guilty to those charges but admitted another of cultivating cannabis.
Jurors heard how Higginson, Biddle and another friend, Sam Chambers, went to McGirr’s house to drink alcohol and relax in the spa pool on the night of October 21.
Michael Demmocks, a friend of McGirr, arrived about 7.30pm after Higginson invited him over for a beer.
He told the jury he had a few beers there, briefly spent some time in the spa pool and left at about 9.30pm, soon after Chambers also left.
“We all need to stick together”
He said McGirr stopped him on a road in Amberley a few weeks later and asked him to convince Higginson to talk to him, saying: “We all need to stick together.”
“It seemed more like he was trying to cover his own arse,” Demmocks said.
Demmocks testified that McGirr mentioned drugs were missing, and asked him if he knew whether Chambers had stolen them.
“He said if Sam did not steal them, then Lauren must have taken them.”
Defence counsel Rupert Glover told Demmocks that, according to McGirr, he did not discuss drugs during the conversation.
“Well maybe you should ask your client to stop lying,” Demmocks retorted.
Detective Jill Karen Brett told the jury no-one was in McGirr’s home when she arrived shortly before 2am the day Biddle died.
She noticed the ground around the spa pool and dining table was wet, and she could smell cannabis in the house. Police knew the house belonged to McGirr, but could not find him.
He appeared from the bushes in front of the house about 3.50am and wanted to know what was happening.
McGirr said he wanted to go to bed, and seemed “nervous” when she told him Biddle had died, she said.
McGirr agreed to answer questions about what happened at a police station, but did not want to do a video interview.
Brett said McGirr initially said he, Biddle and Higginson were “mucking around” in the spa pool, and Biddle went under the water. He said he pulled her out when he realised she had not come back up, and she felt limp.
He later backtracked, saying Biddle was not ducking under the water, but was “laying back relaxing”.
He said he was not sure whether she had taken any drugs, but he “freaked out” after seeing she was unresponsive. He grabbed her clothes and threw them down the hill, then later buried them under some leaves.
“I don’t know why I did that, I wasn’t thinking clearly.”
McGirr told police he grabbed his duvet and walked down the hill to sleep.
“I heard people yelling, but hoped it would all just go away,” he said in his interview.
“It wasn’t that I didn’t want to get into trouble. I just didn’t want to draw attention to me or my address.”
The trial continues.