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Guilty Verdict In Teen Murder Case

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Guilty Verdict In Teen Murder Case

Auckland, Dec 3 NZPA - A 25-year-old man has been found guilty of the murder of a 14-year-old South Auckland cannabis dealer .

Nathan Tuiti Reo Mutunga Williams was found guilty of murdering John Hapeta on August 12 last year and a majority verdict of 11-1 was reached for Daniel Bobby Tumata, 25, who was found not guilty of murder, but guilty of manslaughter.

Williams was also found guilty of assault with intent to rob, and a 17-year-old male who has name suppression, was found not guilty and acquitted of the same charge.

Tumata changed his plea to guilty last Tuesday on the assault with intent to rob charge, and will be sentenced with Williams on both charges on February 26. Both Williams and Tumata were remanded in custody.

Justice John Priestley told the jury at the High Court in Auckland today it had been a difficult trial into the "pointless death of a 14-year-old".

He said the jury had heard a lot of disturbing evidence about youths smoking cannabis and keeping firearms.

"The events on August 12 were a tragedy and totally unnecessary.

"I've been very impressed by the way you've carried out your deliberations, and the careful and conscientious way you've carried out your judgment," Justice Priestley said.

The jury were sent out just before 1pm and deliberated for just over four hours before reaching their verdicts.

The Crown said Hapeta died after two men armed with a gun and a hammer a birthday party at the family home in Weymouth, south of Auckland.

Dressed in black with bandanas covering their faces, they grabbed him and demanded drugs.

When he said he didn't have any he was hit on the back of the head with a hammer.

The Crown alleged he was killed because he failed to make payments on an airgun he bought from another boy, who wanted to be paid in cannabis.

Williams struck the fatal blow but Tumata was also liable for murder by actively assisting him, the Crown said.

Shane Tait, defending Tumata, told NZPA after the verdicts that the jury had a difficult job but he thought they had made the right decision.

"I'm happy with the result and I'm pleased my client was not found guilty of murder," he said.

Marie Dyhrberg, representing Williams, and Shane Cassidy, defending the 17-year-old, refused to comment.

Hapeta's parents were not in court for the verdicts today.

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