A man charged with murdering a New Zealand tourist after she plummeted 14 floors from his apartment, locked her on the balcony for “safety” a court has heard.
Tostee has chosen not to testify at the case, which is being heard at Brisbane Supreme Court in Australia.
Defence barrister Saul Holt QC said: “That sequence of events is a desperate tragedy but it is not murder and it is not manslaughter.
“Just because somebody is dead does not in itself mean someone is criminally responsible.”
Wright, 26, was holidaying in Australia when she matched with the 30-year-old in Surfers Paradise. After meeting on the evening of 7 August, the pair returned to his apartment where they drank and had sex.
Prosecutor Glen Cash told the jury that Tostee did not throw Wright to her death, but intimidated and threatened her to an extent that she felt the only way to escape was to climb down from his balcony in the early hours of the next morning. Tostee is thus responsible for murder, it is claimed.
Tostee secretly recorded more than three hours of audio on his phone that evening. It captured an altercation between the pair, as well as the fall. Selfies taken on Tostee’s phone were also submitted to the jury.
Cash alleged that Tostee became angry after Wright threw ornamental rocks at him and hit him with a telescope. He also said that Tostee choked and restrained her before locking her out of his apartment on the balcony.
Defending, Holt said: “Gable Tostee was lawfully permitted to restrain Ms Wright because she attacked him with rocks… he was acting to remove a disorderly person from his property and the law says you can do that.
“Locking her on the balcony, shutting and locking the door was an act of de-escalation… to intervene, an act that created safety, in essence, for both of them.
“How can the locking have been intimidation when there is nothing to indicate she knew he locked the door?”
Cash told the jury Wright had been so frightened of Tostee she had started climbing in an attempt to seek refuge on another floor of the building.
“Fear of Gable Tostee, fear of what he would do to her if she went back inside. He has caused her death as much as if he had pushed her from the balcony himself.
“Her state of terror is unmistakably proven in the recording,” he said in comments reported by News.com.au
“You’re lucky I haven’t chucked you off my balcony you goddamned psycho bitch,” Tostee is heard saying in the recording. “If you try to pull anything, I’ll knock you out, I’ll knock you the fuck out, do you understand?”
The jury was told a neighbor heard Wright crying, “No, no, no, please let me go home,” before witnessing her falling from the balcony about 15 seconds later.
Holt said Wright had become increasingly erratic and aggressive toward Tostee after a night of drinking and intimacy.
“What happened in this case is nothing like murder or manslaughter. It doesn’t fit,” Holt said.
The trial continues.