15 Dec 2011

Life sentence for man who killed Chinese student

5:19 pm on 15 December 2011

A High Court judge says the cold, callous, vicious murder of a Chinese student in Auckland was the ultimate betrayal by a trusted friend.

Jiayi Li, known to her friends as Kiko, was stabbed to death in west Auckland in May last year.

The 18-year-old's body was found in the boot of her car in Hamilton in June, nearly two weeks after she went missing.

Honglin Yu was found guilty of murder and aggravated robbery on 21 October this year. On Thursday, he was given a life sentence when he appeared at the Auckland High Court and must serve at least 17 years.

Yu, 21, wiped away tears on Thursday as letters from the murdered teenager's family in China were read to the court describing their struggle in accepting that her friend was the one who took her life.

Yu bowed his head as details of a letter from his parents were read by Justice Toogood, saying their dreams for him have also been ruined.

Co-offender Yongxin Li earlier admitted his role and is serving a life sentence, with a minimum non-parole period of 16 years.

The court was told Yu and Li planned her killing through text messages, in which said they would kill anyone for money.

Although Justice Toogood accepted that Li administered the fatal blows, he said they were treated the same by the courts because of Yu's heavy involvement, which included suggesting Kiko as the victim, buying the knives, and driving her to the scene of her death.

The judge said it was a premeditated cold, callous, vicious murder, that Yu could have prevented at any time.

He said he struggled to accept that Yu showed any remorse or regret for killing Kiko, rather putting the blame on Li.