29 May 2019

Drugs likely motive for murder and decapitation

3:52 pm on 29 May 2019

Warning: This article contains graphic details

Arguments over synthetic cannabis-dealing appear to have been the trigger for a Petone pensioner's murder and decapitation.

Eugene Baker is accused of murdering Francis Tyson in December.

Eugene Baker is accused of murdering Francis Tyson in December. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Eugene Baker, 42, appeared in the High Court in Wellington this morning and admitted killing 74-year-old Francis Tyson on November 30 last year.

Baker and his victim lived in adjoining apartment blocks in Petone and a police summary reveals both men were selling synthetic cannabis from their homes and had several arguments in the days leading up to the killing.

Those tensions escalated when Housing New Zealand informed Eugene Baker he was being evicted.

In a text send to Mr Tyson on 28 November 28 last year Baker said, "Francis Tyson there is only one reason Eugene Baker the Maori come [sic] here befriended you and got to know you .... now he understands and your [sic] his next victim [sic]".

On 29 November several Mongrel Mob members arrived at the flats where Eugene Baker lived and a fight was organised between him and one of the gang associates, which ended after the gang associate kicked him several times.

The police summary says that left Baker visibly angry and afterwards he could be heard yelling at Mr Tyson, including threatening to "take [his] head".

Baker's aggression towards his victim increased the next day as he prepared to move out of the apartment complex and he called him a "nark", indicating he believed the 74-year-old had informed on him to the authorities.

Early on the afternoon of 30 November, Baker sent a series of messages to a Mongrel Mob associate in which he referred to "deheading" Mr Tyson and a short time later he slashed all the tyres on Mr Tyson's car.

The police summary says Mr Tyson arrived home shortly after 5pm that afternoon with a large quantity of synthetic cannabis and told local residents it would soon be ready for sale.

At that stage Eugene Baker armed himself with a large kitchen knife and gained access to Mr Tyson's home by intimidating a boarder who also lived there.

He demanded Mr Tyson hand over all his synthetic cannabis and when he refused, Baker stabbed him five times in the chest, causing Mr Tyson to fall to the ground.

"He struck the victim with such force that the blows could be heard from a neighbouring room."

Mr Tyson's boarder had barricaded himself inside his room, but Baker punched a hole through the bedroom door and told the boarder if he didn't leave the flat he would witness Mr Tyson's decapitation.

"From his position on the lounge floor the victim managed to raise his head and plead for the boarder to leave...

"[Baker then] took the boarder's cellphone and keys and escorted him from the apartment."

Mr Tyson died where he had collapsed.

Baker returned to the flat about 20 minutes later and used a bread knife to cut off Mr Tyson's head, which he wrapped in a towel and carried away in a plastic bag, along with Mr Tyson's synthetic cannabis and cash, taking all the items to his home.

Several residents concerned for Mr Tyson's safety visited his home, where they found his body and the police say Baker told several residents that he had killed Mr Tyson and would have it cleaned up in a few days.

"At 8.12pm the defendant uplifted the bag which still contained the victim's head.

"He walked calmly down Jackson Street swinging the bag, appearing to raise it towards the address of known Mongrel Mob members who [lived] nearby."

Baker discarded the bag and its contents at an unknown address and returned home.

The police were alerted around 10pm that evening after reports a man had been decapitated.

"On arrival they found the victim's head had been returned to the defendant, who had it stored in his lounge alongside a large quantity of synthetic drugs."

Baker also had 27 bags of pre-packaged synthetic cannabis on his body.

The Crown lawyer, Grant Burston, today withdrew the other charges Baker had been facing - intentional damage and possession of a psychoactive substance for supply.

Justice Simon France convicted Baker and gave him a warning under the three strikes legislation.

He remanded him in custody until he is sentenced next month.