A jury has found Brayden Towler not guilty of the murder of Petunu Talitumu when he drove into him on a pedestrian crossing in the Glen Eden shopping village in West Auckland.

The verdict was delivered at 4pm at the High Court of Auckland. Towler denied he meant to kill Talitumu when he hit him with his Holden Commodore on November 23, 2022.

He was also found not guilty of a second charge of presenting a firearm.

But he was found guilty of manslaughter, and will be sentenced on April 22.

Justice Jagose sent the jury out about 4pm on Tuesday. They returned to court this morning to ask for a legal definition of “intentional”. The judge said there is no legal definition, and reminded them of the definition in English: “Did he mean to do it”.

Crown prosecutor Claire Paterson argued that the death was the result of road rage.

She claimed Towler was angry his car was being tailgated along Glenmall Place, and executed a u-turn opposite the Glen Eden RSA on Glendale Road to aim his Holden directly at Talitumu, who had got out of his partner’s Ford Territory and was standing on the road.

“He hit him pretty close to square-on,” said Paterson. “Exactly where he intended to. No swerving, a direct, straight hit.”

Defence lawyer Adam Couchman told the jury that it was an accident.

He said Towler didn’t see Talitumu until it was too late, and had only intended to drive away out of fear he was about to be attacked.

“Stopping wasn’t an option. Getting away was the only option. He didn’t know the man was there.”

One juror held out against a not guilty verdict. But the other 11 jurors rejected the Crown case that it was a hit and run. All 12 jurors rejected that Towler waved what seemed to be a gun when he was pursued by a member of the public.

Talitumu died at the scene.

Members of the two families hugged outside the courtroom after the verdict.