Weekend Herald

Chainsaw-wielding killer handed life term

Murderer and victim inhabited ‘insidious and evil drug world’, sentencing judge tells court

- John Weekes

Denver Chance’s mother says the drug dealer who killed her son is an evil, self-absorbed person who deprived people of a beautiful friend.

Chance was killed in February 2019 and his body placed in a freezer. Jay Christophe­r Lingman was found guilty of his murder after a trial this year and was yesterday sentenced to at least 15 years in jail.

In the High Court at Auckland, Denver Chance’s mother Paula McGregor said it was unfathomab­le someone could kill her son in such a heinous crime – and keep quiet about the murder for so long.

“We all spent countless hours driving around the Waikato and Auckland areas looking for him.”

Police discovered Chance’s body on March 10, 2019, at Lingman’s rural South Auckland property in Karaka.

“That was the longest two weeks of my life,” McGregor said.

“Denver was a very kind, loyal, considerat­e, loyal and beautiful son, brother, uncle and friend.”

At trial, Lingman admitted taking a chainsaw to Chance’s body before placing him in the freezer.

McGregor said the disrespect and degradatio­n was extremely hard to comprehend.

“I miss my beautiful son so much.” Lingman pleaded not guilty to murder, claiming he acted in selfdefenc­e when an angry Chance surprised him at his Karaka house.

Security camera evidence and Google location data footage showed Chance was in Karaka on February 24, 2019.

But the Crown said Chance was never armed and Lingman shot him before attempting to hide the killing.

Prosecutor Gareth Kayes said the jury’s verdict was consistent with the idea Chance and Lingman had a prearrange­d meeting.

Defence counsel Ron Mansfield said it was establishe­d at trial Chance was a commercial drug dealer connected to patched Head Hunters.

Mansfield said Lingman had positive aspects of his character, and friends and family who valued him.

“But he acknowledg­es, frankly, that he was also involved in commercial drug dealing.”

The defence maintained a conflict erupted at Lingman’s property, which must have caused either man, or both, to arm themselves.

Sadly, this conflict could only have ended with one or both men getting hurt, Mansfield said.

Justice Melanie Harland said Lingman and Chance inhabited an “insidious and evil drug world” kept secret from even their loved ones.

Lingman in the dock mostly just looked ahead, his head down slightly.

Apart from the murder charge, he was also sentenced on three charges of drug possession for supply.

Justice Harland sentenced him to life imprisonme­nt with a minimum 15-year and two-month term.

Chance’s sister Ginny O’Sullivan, based in Tennessee, said her brother was a kind man who did not deserve to die in such a gruesome and senseless manner.

“His unconditio­nal love was a beautiful thing, unwavering and steadfast.”

Addressing the killer, she said: “I want you to live with the pain you have caused all of us, to your last breath and beyond”.

It pained her to think of Chance watching his family from the afterlife and seeing them suffer, O’Sullivan said.

“Imagine what he could have done in a full lifetime.”

Denver was a very kind, loyal, considerat­e, loyal and beautiful son, brother, uncle and friend.

Paula McGregor

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