3 Jul 2013

Plea to report violence as killer gets life

5:26 pm on 3 July 2013

The mother of a murder victim is pleading for people to take action if they suspect a woman has been the victim of domestic violence.

Nikki Roper was twice imprisoned for assaulting Alexsis Tovizi and had only just been released from prison for the last attack when he strangled her in 2010.

On Wednesday he was given a life sentence with a minimum non-parole period of 14-and-a-half years for murder when he appeared at the Christchurch High Court.

Outside court, Cheryl Tovizi pleaded for people to report domestic violence whenever it occurs so no one else will have to go through what her family has.

"One woman is killed by her partner or ex-partner every five weeks. Too many lives are being lost and taken and the lives of those left behind are impacted forever. It may be hard at first - but believe me, burying someone that you cared deeply about is a hell of a lot harder."

Ms Tovizi said it is ridiculous that Roper only now receives his first strike as part of the three-strikes law, which culminates in a life sentence with no parole. She said all cases of domestic violence should get a strike.

Son traumatised, court told

During sentencing on Wednesday, the court was told how Alexsis Tovizi's son had been traumatised by the killing.

A victim impact statement was read out. Cheryl Tovizi said her grandson, who was at the house at the time of the attack, is still struggling to come to terms with what happened.

Ms Tovizi said she had to tell him at his mother's funeral that he would not be able to get inside the casket with his mother.

She told the court Nikki Roper had inflicted deep psychological wounds on the boy and this was added to by his decision to put Alexsis' body in the boy's bed after he strangled her.

Roper's lawyer said time should be taken off his sentence because he hadn't gone to great lengths to conceal the murder and the attack had not been prolonged.

However, Justice Miller noted Roper was standing in the dock in handcuffs after an attempt at the time of his conviction to leap from the dock and attack a member of Alexsis Tovizi's family. He also remarked that Roper had boasted he would attack a police officer when he appeared for sentencing.

The judge said there was no guarantee that Roper would be released after his prison term and this would depend on whether the Parole Board thought he was ready to re-enter the community.