Killer was on bail

Part­ner ad­mits to man­slaugh­ter in jealous rage but de­nies mur­der­ing woman he had as­saulted weeks ear­lier

The New Zealand Herald - - FRONT PAGE - Jared Sav­age ex­clu­sive

Aman who punched, kicked and stomped his part­ner to death in a jealous “erup­tion of rage” was on bail for a pre­vi­ous vi­o­lent at­tack on her. Marie Rose Har­lick died af­ter a 20-minute assault by Robert Roupere Ho­hua dur­ing which a neigh­bour heard him yell: “Get up be­fore I kill you.”

Their 19-month-old daugh­ter was inside the Opotiki home, strapped in her stroller, dur­ing the fa­tal beat­ing in Novem­ber 2016.

Ho­hua, 36, yes­ter­day pleaded not guilty to mur­der at the start of his trial in the High Court at Tau­ranga.

How­ever, he has ac­cepted re­spon­si­bil­ity for her death.

De­fence lawyer Gene Tom­lin­son told the jury Ho­hua was guilty of the lesser charge of man­slaugh­ter — not mur­der — as he did not mean to kill Har­lick.

“The is­sue for you is to de­cide what was in his mind dur­ing the assault.”

Be­fore her vi­o­lent death, Ho­hua and Har­lick had been in a re­la­tion­ship for about two years and raised a 19-month-old girl to­gether, Crown pros­e­cu­tor Richard Jen­son said in his open­ing ad­dress.

But the cou­ple were not liv­ing to­gether at the time of her death.

This was be­cause Ho­hua was on bail for an ear­lier vi­o­lent at­tack on Har­lick in Oc­to­ber.

As part of his bail con­di­tions on the charge of assault with in­tent to in­jure, Ho­hua was not al­lowed to go within 100m of Har­lick.

A bail cur­few meant Ho­hua had to be at an­other Opotiki ad­dress be­tween the hours of 7pm and 6am.

De­spite these strict con­di­tions, the cou­ple had been drink­ing to­gether with friends in the hours lead­ing up to Har­lick's death.

This was at a house on Welling­ton St where Har­lick was serv­ing a sen­tence of home de­ten­tion.

Just be­fore his 7pm cur­few, Ho­hua re­turned to his bail ad­dress on Wind­sor St with Vivi­enne, who was just 19 months old, and oth­ers he was drink­ing with.

But about 9.30pm, Ho­hua be­came wor­ried Har­lick was be­ing un­faith­ful to him and re­turned to her home on Welling­ton St, push­ing the tod­dler in the stroller.

When Har­lick didn't an­swer the door, Jen­son said Ho­hua be­came an­gry and smashed a win­dow to let him­self in.

Har­lick walked in the back door, but was too drunk to an­swer Ho­hua's ques­tions.

This “en­raged” Ho­hua, said Jen­son, and he punched Har­lick in the face.

She was knocked to the ground and was “prob­a­bly un­con­scious at this point”, said Jen­son.

A neigh­bour called 111 at 9.58pm and also heard a man shout “get up be­fore I kill you”, or “get up or I'll kill you”.

The teenage wit­ness, who can­not be named be­cause of his age, said he heard “mul­ti­ple stomps” and some­one “gasp­ing for air”.

“I knew some­one was get­ting hurt and it was go­ing to be bad if some­one didn't help.”

The young man, who was vis­it­ing a friend who lived next door, conceded un­der cross-ex­am­i­na­tion by Ho­hua’s coun­sel Tom­lin­son that he never saw “stomp­ing”.

“He and his friend wanted to go next door to stop the fight­ing, but the friend's mother did not let them.

“I said no, ring the po­lice . . . he was only 17,” Rita Kurei told the jury.

“I heard a lot of bang­ing . . . it

seemed like it was go­ing on for­ever.”

Ho­hua is al­leged to have punched, kicked and stomped Har­lick in an assault which dragged on for about 20 min­utes.

Ho­hua then dragged her into the bath, where he cleaned the blood off her face.

Her body was left un­der the run­ning tap while Ho­hua went to check on Vivi­enne, who was cry­ing in the stroller.

He then moved Har­lick on to a mat­tress in a bed­room and cov­ered her with a blan­ket. Vivi­enne was later found in the same room.

Two po­lice of­fi­cers, who were busy with an­other in­ci­dent when the 111 call was made, ar­rived at the Welling­ton St house at 10.24pm.

Ho­hua fled and was tasered dur­ing the ar­rest. The po­lice found Har­lick inside the bed­room, un­re­spon­sive.

A post-mortem ex­am­i­na­tion re­vealed a long list of in­juries in­flicted dur­ing the “erup­tion of rage”, said Jen­son, in­clud­ing bruises, cuts and frac­tures to both sides of her jaw.

But just a faint bruise marked the fa­tal in­jury.

She bled to death, in­ter­nally, af­ter a stomp or kick to her stom­ach rup­tured an artery.

For the jury to con­vict Ho­hua of mur­der, Jen­son said the Crown had to prove mur­der­ous in­tent at the time of the assault.

Even if Ho­hua did not in­tend to kill Har­lick, Jen­son said mur­der­ous in­tent could be es­tab­lished if the Crown proved Ho­hua knew the beat­ing could kill her, but went ahead any­way.

“[Ho­hua] con­sciously took a risk to dice with Ms Har­lick's life,” said Jen­son.

This al­ter­na­tive was de­scribed as a “reck­less mur­der” or the Crown's “back-up po­si­tion”, when Tom­lin­son re­sponded in his open­ing ad­dress to the jury.

“Mr Ho­hua as­saulted Marie that night and as a con­se­quence she died. There is no is­sue with that. He is clearly guilty of man­slaugh­ter.

“The real is­sue is did he know, con­sciously, what he was do­ing was likely to kill her?

“Your job is not to hold him to ac­count. Your job is to de­cide what was in his mind.”

The trial be­fore Jus­tice Anne Hin­ton is sched­uled for two weeks.

Marie Har­lick bled to death af­ter a 20-minute assault by her part­ner Robert Ho­hua.

Pic­ture / Alan Gibson

Robert Ho­hua in the dock of the High Court at Tau­ranga, where he de­nied mur­der­ing Marie Har­lick.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.