6 Sep 2019

Auckland teen was kidnapped and tortured, court hears

6:43 am on 6 September 2019


Graphic warning: This story includes disturbing content

An Auckland teenager was tortured and beaten before being given a choice of how she wanted to die, a court has heard.

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Kerry Te Amo, left and Toko (Ashley) Shane Winter. Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Dimetrius Pairama's body was found by police in a metal drum at a vacant Housing New Zealand property in Māngere on 8 July last year.

The discovery was part of a police inquiry that began after officers broke up a fight in Auckland's CBD where a young girl claimed her friend had been murdered.

Toko Shane Winter, 29, and Kerry Te Amo, 26, are in the High Court in Auckland this month accused of murdering the 17-year-old.

Miss Winter, a 29-year-old trans woman, has admitted kidnapping the teenager but denies the murder charge, while Mr Te Amo denies both kidnapping and murder.

Solicitor for Manukau Natalie Walker said the two defendants met up with Miss Pairama and two other teens, whose names are suppresed, in town last July. They spent the night together before catching a train to South Auckland in the morning and ending up at an abandoned house in Māngere.

Ms Walker said it was not clear why but at some point the defendants turned on Miss Pairama and began a "vicious, degrading and ultimately fatal attack".

Manukau Crown Solicitor Natalie Walker

Manukau Crown Solicitor Natalie Walker. Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

The court heard much of the Crown's evidence of what happened came from a young woman in the group who has been granted immunity from prosecution.

Ms Walker said the attack began with Miss Winter punching and kicking Miss Pairama; at times asking others to join in or take over.

By chance, police knocked on the door looking for a former tenant but Miss Pairama told the others she would cover for them and answered the door before the officers left, she said.

The court heard Miss Winter then asked the Miss Pairama to strip naked and used the teenager's underwear to gag her before Mr Te Amo tied her to a chair.

Ms Walker said both defendants cut her hair off using a shaver and scissors before giving a makeshift aersol can and lighter to an unnamed teenager who applied a flame to Miss Pairama's genitals.

Mr Te Amo was then left in the room to beat her before the group sat down in front of the teenager, the court heard.

"Miss Winter asked her how she wanted to die. She was presented with a chilling choice; death by hanging or by being stabbed.

"Miss Winter told Dimetrius if she didn't decide by 3pm that she would stab her," Ms Walker said.

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Toko Shane Winter in the High Court in Auckland. Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

The court heard the room was cleared and one of the teenagers offered Miss Pairama her clothes so she could escape but she refused; saying she was too scared and would rather die.

"When the others returned to the bedroom [one of the teenagers] told Miss Winter that Dimetrius had chosen to be hanged.

"Miss Winter went to her and confirmed the decision. Miss Winter told Mr Te Amo to get the rope ready. He ripped up a sheet and used it to make a rope."

Ms Walker said one of the teenagers would tell the court she was positioned as a lookout but fell asleep and woke up to find Miss Pairama hanged.

"[Her] evidence is that by this stage, Miss Winter was now freaking out and that she told her she had killed Dimetrius but said it was something that had to be done."

The court heard police asked the teenager if she knew of a motive and she said Miss Winter blamed Miss Pairama for a past assault and another teenager present had been told Miss Pairama was "talking shit about her".

"Both had a reason to dislike Dimetrius, however it's unfathomable how either of those reasons alone or in combination could ever have been elevated to a motive to torture Dimetrius and then kill her in the callous way that she was."

The court heard Miss Pairama grew up with whānau in Northland and moved to Auckland when her grandfather died.

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Kerry Te Amo Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Ms Walker said the teenager spent time on the streets sleeping rough but was enrolled with two education providers at the time of her death.

"Dimetrius is described by those who knew her as bubbly, pretty and very friendly; the sort of person who would hug everyone when she got to class each day and again when she left.

"She is also described as natural and outgoing with a distinctive laugh and often giggly," Ms Walker said.

The court heard although Miss Pairama was a 17-year-old she was childlike and simply; appearing vulnerable and naive to some.

In his opening remarks, Justice Brewer warned the jury about what they would be hearing and seeing throughout the trial.

Justice Brewer

Justice Brewer Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

"From what I know of the facts of this case you are going to hear evidence of a life and evidence of a way of dealing that is outside anything that you have experienced before."

He said there was "no doubt" a murder had taken place and Ms Pairama was injured before she died.

"The allegation against these two defendants are broadly that they kidnapped a young woman, subjected her to a period of torture and then killed her."

The judge told the jurors to set aside any sympathy for the victim or any prejudice against the defendants in deciding the facts of the case.

The trial, which will hear from 40 Crown witnesses, is set down for four weeks but may finish earlier.