12 Dec 2011

Life sentence for Murupara teenager's murder

6:53 pm on 12 December 2011

A teenager has been sentenced to life in prison and will serve a minimum of 10 years behind bars for the murder of another teenager in Murupara more than two years ago.

Kaine Lewis, 17, was hit in the head during an altercation between affiliates of two gangs - the Mongrel Mob and the Tribesmen - in October 2009.

He died on the way to hospital.

In July this year, Norton Taoho, 19, pleaded guilty to murdering Mr Lewis.

Joshua Leslie-Whitu and Hemi Winitana were found guilty by a jury of manslaughter in relation to the death.

All were sentenced in the High Court in Rotorua on Monday.

Taoho was given a minimum non-parole period of 10 years.

Leslie-Whitu was sentenced to eight years jail with a minimum of four years in prison, and Winitana was sentenced to eight years and four months with a minimum period of four years and two months.

Two other men, David Rewi and Neville Duff, were sentenced for participation in a criminal group in relation to the death.

Rewi was sentenced to two and a half years jail while Duff was sentenced to two years and ten months.

Kaine Lewis's father told the court he felt cheated and devastated that his son's life was taken.

John Lewis read a victim impact statement in court saying he buried his son with a broken heart, and it was the hardest thing he had ever done.

In sentencing, Justice Priestley referred to an affidavit from a police officer describing the town as bedevilled by gang confrontations and violence for almost three years.

He told the court the major curse of Murupara is ongoing conflict between two different gangs.

Justice Priestley says the community and surrounding regions will not be safe until gang membership is seen as a stupid choice.

"Murupara is my view is a sad, and on occasions a dangerous, town. Most of its long-standing, mature and disciplined inhabitants are, I am sure, appalled at what occurs there."

Murupara Community Board chairperson Jacob Te Kurapa has rejected the comment that Murupara is a sad, and on occasions a dangerous, town.