18 Mar 2014

Life sentence for Christmas Eve bashing

7:35 pm on 18 March 2014

A man who killed his former partner was previously convicted of attacks involving a tomahawk and a knife, the High Court has been told.

Jasmine Cooper, 26, was found dead outside her Te Hana home on Christmas Eve last year.

On Tuesday, Gene Hepana was jailed for life when he appeared at the High Court in Auckland, and must serve a minimum of 17 years before he is considered eligible for parole.

The 40-year-old choked Miss Cooper until she was unconscious, before picking up a rock and hitting her face and neck until she was dead.

The pair had been in a in a relationship for five months before a violent argument split them up a month before Miss Cooper was killed.

Justice Lang told the court in that month Hepana was subject to a trespass order but he continued to send her text messages and visit her house.

On the night she died Miss Cooper sent a text message asking for help from family members, saying there was someone creeping around outside, but the message wasn't read until too late.

It was revealed in court that Hepana had previously been given a 10-year jail term for attacks involving a tomahawk and a knife.

The courtroom was almost full to capacity with her relatives on Tuesday.