A man charged with murdering a New Zealand tourist after she plummeted 14 floors from his apartment balcony during a Tinder date has been found not guilty.
A Queensland state Supreme Court jury also acquitted Gable Tostee of the lesser offense of manslaughter in the 2014 death of 26-year-old Warriena Wright. The 30-year-old had faced a life sentence if convicted.
Prosecutors did not allege that Tostee threw Wright to her death, but had argued she was so scared of Tostee that she fell while trying to escape from his apartment balcony on Australia’s Gold Coast.
The two met for the first time the night she died, and went back to his apartment.
During the trial, prosecutor Glen Cash said Tostee intimidated and threatened Wright so much that she felt her only escape was to climb down from his balcony.
The court heard an audio recording made on Tostee’s phone that captured an altercation between the pair, as well as the fatal fall.
Cash claimed Tostee became angry after Wright threw ornamental rocks at him and hit him with a telescope. The prosecutor also said that Tostee choked and restrained her before locking her out of his apartment on the balcony.
“You’re lucky I haven’t chucked you off my balcony,” Tostee is heard saying in the recording. “If you try to pull anything, I’ll knock you out.”
Defense lawyer Saul Holt denied Tostee was responsible for Wright’s death, saying the woman from Lower Hutt, on New Zealand’s North Island, became erratic and aggressive toward Tostee after a night of drinking.
Outside court, another lawyer representing Tostee said his client was grateful for the verdict.
“He’s relieved this matter is now behind him and he’s looking forward to moving on with his life,” lawyer Nick Dore said.
Earlier on Thursday afternoon, Tostee’s defence made an application for a mistrial after a juror was found to have made several posts about attending the case on Instagram, the ABC reported.
Justice Byrne rejected the mistrial application, ruling the communication did not show bias, nor did the juror discuss evidence.