1 Nov 2010

Surprise guilty plea pleases victim's family

9:09 pm on 1 November 2010

The brother of a man who was fatally stabbed in central Auckland after going to the aid of a woman has welcomed a surprise guilty plea by his killer.

The trial for Pauesi Leofa Brown, 47, was to have begun in the High Court in Auckland on Monday morning. But before it started he admitted that he murdered Austin Hemmings in 2008, and assaulted Diane Nonu with a knife in a downtown Auckland street.

Police welcomed the plea change, saying there was nothing to suggest Brown would change his mind.

A summary of facts was read to the court, including details of how Mr Hemmings, 44, was stabbed to death with a 20cm kitchen knife when he intervened in a domestic dispute between Brown and Ms Nonu.

Mr Hemmings was the branch manager for an insurance company. Police called him a hero.

The incident happened as people were leaving work.

Brown, 47, has a number of previous convictions.

Mr Hemmings' brother, Craig Hemmings, says it was good for his parents in Matamata to hear of the admission.

He supports a demand from his brother's widow for toughener laws on carrying knives.

Jenny Hemmings says too many people have been killed with knives and the law needs changing. She also says justice should have been done more quickly, but the last-minute change has spared her family a fortnight of trauma in court.

The Government is waiting for a progress report before introducing legislation on the matter through changes the Crimes Act.