Four jailed for life af­ter party stab­bing

Central Leader - - NEWS - By ROB KIDD

Those re­spon­si­ble for the road­side stab­bing of a man af­ter a dis­pute at a party will spend at least the next 13 years in prison.

John Li’a, 23, died in Mt Roskill on Oc­to­ber 14, 2011, af­ter suf­fer­ing eight stab wounds from his head to his waist dur­ing a vi­cious at­tack.

In the High Court at Auck­land on Tues­day Ce­cilia Uhrle, Unalotu Tongia, Esau Vailag­i­lala and Faa­manu Fe­su­luai were each sen­tenced to life im­pris­on­ment by Jus­tice Mark Cooper.

The vic­tim’s mother Aseka said in an emo­tional state­ment read to the court that her life had been ripped apart by her son’s death and she was no longer able to work be­cause of the stress it had caused.

‘‘No sen­tence will be long enough,’’ she said.

The court heard that on the night of the mur­der Mr Li’a had stormed out of Uhrle’s birth­day party af­ter an ar­gu­ment.

He smashed glass on the door and the back wind­screen of Uhrle’s car as he left with his younger sis­ter Mil­lie.

Uhrle chased the pair in her car be­fore re­turn­ing to the party to fetch the three co-of­fend­ers.

Vailag­i­lala tack­led Mr Li’a to the ground and a sav­age at­tack en­sued which in­volved the three men us­ing four weapons, the court was told.

The post mortem con­cluded he suf­fered eight wounds from four weapons.

Uhrle left the scene af­ter be­ing con­fronted by a nearby res­i­dent, as did the men some time later.

Po­lice found Mr Li’a un­con­scious and ly­ing in a pool of his own blood.

Dogs tracked the four ac­cused to the house of the birth­day party.

Po­lice found Mr Li’a’s blood on all three of the ac­cused men’s clothes and traces of blood in the bath­room at the house.

Tongia and Vailag­i­lala, both aged 19 at the time, were given a min­i­mum pe­riod of im­pris­on­ment of 131⁄ years. Fe­su­luai was jailed for 15 years. His part­ner Uhrle was jailed for 13 years.

Ac­cord­ing to judge Cooper she ‘‘must have been aware of the mur­der­ous in­tent’’ even though she did not par­tic­i­pate in the beat­ing.

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