18 May 2017

Supreme Court denies appeal over murder conviction

7:24 pm on 18 May 2017

A man who admitted his role in the bludgeoning death of a Waikato drug dealer has failed in a seven-year legal campaign to secure his innocence.


Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

The Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal of Todd Aaron Marteley, even though it earlier ruled that he should be given legal aid to seek such an appeal.

The issue began when Piki Kingi was hacked to death with a tomahawk and a cricket bat in the Hamilton suburb of Hillcrest in 2009.

Four people were imprisoned for the crime, including Marteley, who was jailed for life with a minimum non parole period of 14 years.

The Waikato Times reported at the time that Kingi was lured to the address by Marteley, who believed he had been double-crossed over a drug deal.

He was also disillusioned with the quality of methamphetamine he had earlier bought from Kingi.

Marteley pleaded guilty at trial.

But he later sought legal aid to appeal against both his conviction and his sentence.

The legal aid authorities agreed to financial help for his appeal against sentence but not against conviction.

Marteley then went to the High Court, seeking legal aid for both appeals.

He won in the High Court, lost in the Court of Appeal, then won in the Supreme Court.

That court ruled legal aid authorities should not deny help to a convicted criminal just because they thought his case had no merit.

That would deny poor people the chance to have their day in court.

But when it came to hearing the case itself, the Supreme Court refused to accept it.

It was the second time that the Supreme Court had said no to Marteley.

An earlier hearing gave some clue as to why Marteley chose to appeal over a crime he had earlier pleaded guilty to.

Material before the court said the prosecutor at the original trial indicated he would seek a murder charge against Marteley's partner if he fought against his own charge in court.

In the end, the partner was charged with manslaughter only, and Marteley pleaded guilty to murder, although he tried to revoke that later.