One last strug­gle as teen killer jailed for life

The Press - - News - DAVID CLARK­SON

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.

PHOTO: STACY SQUIRES/ FAIR­FAX NZ

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.

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