Auckland man who murdered mother sentenced to minimum 10 years in jail

12:34 pm on 12 July 2019

An Auckland man who murdered his mother and set fire to her Mt Roskill home has sentenced to life imprisonment.

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Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

Linda Edwards' body was found inside her razed one-bedroom unit on Rainford Street on 8 November 2016.

Her son, Kiri Paul Patira Brackenridge, was later charged with murder, arson and dishonestly using her bank card.

He was 25 years old when he strangled her to death before stealing her card to buy cigarettes and a small quantity of petrol he used to set her sofa alight.

These facts were not disputed by Brackenridge but he stood trial in the High Court Auckland in May - arguing he was legally insane at the time.

On 7 May a jury, finding he was capable of understanding what he was doing and knowing it was morally wrong, returned guilty verdicts.

At his sentencing this morning, Crown prosecutor Sam McMullan read a victim impact statement penned by Ms Edwards' brother, Allen Edwards.

"What was so bad in you life that made you do this? Seriously, what was so bad you took your own mother's life?"

The court heard Brackenridge was staying with his uncle when he took the bus from Gisborne to Auckland to murder his mother.

"Within hours of your leaving I took that dreaded phone call no one should ever receive. I was shattered."

Through his written statement, Mr Edwards told his nephew he deserved jail and encouraged him to turn his life around and contribute to society.

"You only get one mother. You stole her from your siblings and you robbed her of her grandchildren.

"Not to mention the larger family who loved and cherished her for who she was; a beautiful lady who was free spirited and had a heart of gold."

The court heard Brackenridge, a father of two, had drug-induced schizophrenia at the time of the offending.

Justice Jagose said while the young man stopped using methamphetamine two months before the murder, a psychotic state - which warped his view of his mother and the world - persisted.

"You thought the sun god told you your mother was evil, the devil and lying about your father's identity.

"You said you felt you had accomplished a mission in killing her and needed to signal that to the sun god which you did by setting fire to her unit."

Mr McMullan said the defendant's interactions with his uncle and journal writings showed there was a level of premeditation to the crime.

He submitted a sentence of life imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of 11 years was appropriate.

But Brackenridge's lawyer Marie Dyhrberg QC said a life term would be manifestly unjust and submitted an 11-year finite term was appropriate.

She said premeditation required rational planning and her client had suffered serious psychosis for a long period before the murder.

"Without the mental illness, without the psychosis, there wouldn't have been the offending because it's quite clear he was very close and loved his mother and there's just no explanation for why he did what he did except for the psychosis."

The court heard he was now in sustained remission, having spent a short period as an in-patient and stabilised on medication.

Justice Jagose said Brackenridge had a disjointed and drug-affected upbringing in which his stepfather and sisters played parental roles.

"You were close with your mother but that relationship deteriorated as your drug taking and mental trauma intensified. You have struggled to find your place in the world."

The young man's brow was furrowed as members of his family wept in the public gallery during the sentencing hearing.

"Your family has been fractured by your offending. While you have some support from your sisters and partner, that is tempered by their loss of Ms Edwards at your hand and their need for her to have justice," the judge said.

Justice Jagose jailed Brackenridge for life with a minimum non-parole period of 10 years, extending his condolences to those sitting in the public gallery.