One last struggle as teen killer jailed for life
After fighting for all of his 18 years, Taniela Kotoitoga Daven Tiako Waitokia ended his High Court sentencing for murder with another struggle.
He was sentenced to life, with a non-parole term of 11 years and six months, for the bashing murder of 87-year-old Harold Richardson in his Upper Riccarton home.
Waitokia stood in the dock in the High Court at Christchurch for yesterday’s sentencing.
A well-dressed woman in the public seats also stood, then stepped forward and hugged Waitokia as the court adjourned. The one Corrections officer in court struggled to stop them, but eventually got them apart. Waitokia was taken to the cell doorway, calling out ‘‘love you, cuz’’.
Escort staff at court prevent contact with members of the public because it is seen as an easy opportunity to pass contraband to prisoners.
Waitokia was a drugged-up 16-year-old when he murdered Richardson at his home on August 1, 2015. The elderly hoarder had a reputation for buying stolen gear off local youths.
Waitokia could not explain the attack on a man he knew and liked. He tried to make Richardson more comfortable by placing cushions under his head as he lay dying after the attack.
Waitokia took alcohol and electronic items from Richardson’s flat, then biked to where he was living and told a woman he called ‘‘Auntie’’ that he had done something serious. He was told he was not allowed to socialise and was sent to his room. He went, like a disobedient child.
He had called at Odyssey House’s youth unit twice that night, seeking help at the drug rehabilitation centre because he apparently felt he was in crisis. He left a note on the first visit when everyone was out, and could not stay on the second visit because he was already stoned.
Contradictions about Waitokia and his victim emerged through the sentencing, where defence counsel Jonathan Eaton QC urged the court to see the ‘‘goodness’’ deep inside Waitokia and not regard him as a lost cause.
Waitokia was exposed to violence, gang culture, criminal offending and drug use throughout his childhood and early teens. He had used cannabis and alcohol since his pre-teen years, and had used cannabis and synthetic cannabis daily in recent years.
He fought often at school and youth facilities, but Eaton said Waitokia did not have convictions for violence.
‘‘That suggests he is somebody who doesn’t stand down, and fights for others,’’ Eaton said.
The sentencing heard about Richardson’s background for the first time. He had no family in New Zealand, but a victim impact statement was received from his brother in Britain.
Richardson joined the British army after leaving school and served with the New Zealand Prison Service until his retirement. He had a close relationship with a woman he nursed for many years before her death.
He was described as a friendly and kindly man, but his condition deteriorated five or six years ago and he became something of a recluse.
‘‘He was remembered by his brother and family as a person who had led a full and productive life, and his death has come as a shock to them, and caused deep sadness,’’ Justice Mander said.
Richardson suffered ‘‘a sustained and brutal attack’’, in which Waitokia bashed him 14 times with a bottle, continuing to strike him after the bottle shattered.
Waitokia was amped on drugs on the night of the murder, but his drug use was not regarded as a mitigating factor.
Taniela Kotoitoga Daven Tiako, 18, has been sentenced to life, with a non-parole period of 11 years and six months, for the murder of Harold Richardson.