Life sentence for killer

The man who killed mother-of-two Chozyn Koroheke, 22, in Pakuranga last year has been jailed for life.

Turiarangi Tai appeared in the High Court at Auckland on Friday and was sentenced to a minimum non-parole period of 17 years by Justice Matthew Muir.

In his sentencing notes, the judge said Tai and the deceased had been in a relationship for several months. They rented a property on Pakuranga Highway with three others including Ms Koroheke’s brother Nacyn and his girlfriend.

Tai and Ms Koroheke’s relationship was a dysfunctional and mistrustful one, the judge said, characterised by frequent arguments often brought on by mutual suspicions of unfaithfulness.

At trial there was significant evidence of Tai’s escalating domestic violence towards Ms Koroheke over the period of their relationship. “This included an incident where he stabbed her in the leg,” Justice Muir said.

“Mr Tai denied he was physically violent to her but I am satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that a pattern of physical and emotional abuse was established.”

The night before each had socialised separately at friends’ addresses and Tai, who had been associated with the gang the Crips, had stayed up all night consuming alcohol and methamphetamine.

In the morning he collected Ms Koroheke and arguments started about why he had not done so earlier. “Again there were underlying suspicions of unfaithfulness,” Justice Muir said.

“They returned to the Pakuranga Highway address where Mr Tai brooded and argued. Later in the day, Mr Tai showed Nacyn a 12-gauge shotgun which he had recently acquired. It was unloaded at the time.”

Ms Koroheke had earlier used Tai’s car for shopping. On her return he packed his things and he left but returned as the car was on empty. He was “clearly enraged” she’d not refuelled the car.

“Chozyn saw him returning with the gun and retreated…to the bedroom saying “he’s coming back in with a shotgun” or words to that effect,” the judge said.

Nacyn tried to get her into a cupboard. Tai entered the house and pushed the door open.

“He pointed the shotgun at Chozyn’s head and poked her in the cheek saying words to the effect “do you think I’m all shit?

“He then lowered the gun to her abdomen and pulled the trigger.”

Forensic evidence established there was no malfunction with the gun.

Nacyn and his girlfriend each called 111. Tai attempted CPR and tried to staunch the blood loss and kept repeating “stay awake, say with me, fight, Chozyn”…

”Soon, however, Mr Tai’s apparent remorse turned into self-interest. He told (Nacyn’s girlfriend) “you didn’t see anything”.

He left in his car. She died shortly after being moved from the house into the waiting ambulance. Tai was on the run for almost two weeks and handed himself in when his mother took him to the police.

Tai, 22 at the time, has a lengthy criminal history including several convictions for violent offending. He has been in institutional care most of his life and was a victim of sustained physical abuse by his father from the age of five.

“He presents today as a recidivist, violent and somewhat cowardly thug, but one fashioned by his background,” Justice Muir said, reiterating the “scourge” that family violence has become in New Zealand society”.

“The serial abuse to which she had been subjected and the level of control administered at the end of Mr Tai’s fist, knee, one occasion a knife, on another a rock and further at the end of a steel pole, had reduced her to a point where, as (her father) said this morning, I am satisfied “the courage had been beaten out of her”.”