Life sentence for murderer

Killer Turiarangi Tai and his victim and late partner Chozyn Koroheke. Photo NZ Police

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

Turiarangi Tai appeared in the High Court at Auckland today and was sentenced to a minimum non-parole period of 17 years, media reported.

Newshub reported today that Justice Matthew Muir said the case is an appalling example of New Zealand’s domestic abuse problem. He described Tai as a seasoned violent offender who had “beaten the courage” out of 22-year-old Ms Koroheke.

Tai was found guilty of the murder of Ms Koroheke in March.

Ms Koroheke died from her injuries after being shot once in the abdomen with a 12-gauge double barrelled shotgun at an address on Pakuranga Rd last year.

Tai, 23, appeared on one charge of murder to which he pleaded not guilty. Earlier in the trial he pleaded guilty to a related charge of unlawful use of a firearm.

A 25-year-old female also appeared alongside Tai in the dock, charged with being an accessory after the fact of murder, accused of helping Tai evade capture after Ms Koroheke’s death. The jury found her not guilty.

In his summing up in March, Justice Matthew Muir instructed the jury to detach themselves from any emotions as they decide a verdict.

“A young woman has tragically and prematurely died as a result of a shotgun wound. I’m sure you found aspects of the 111 call…just as harrowing as I did.

“But the sympathy you undoubtedly feel for Chozyn must not have any place in your deliberations,” he said.

During the trial, Crown prosecutor Mark Williams told the jury the relationship between Tai and the victim was one characterised by violence and abuse at the hands of Tai.

However defence counsel for Tai, Peter Kaye, told the court in march verbal spats between the two were nothing more than “hot air” in his closing address on Friday.

He told the jury at the time Tai was undoubtedly guilty of shooting Ms Koroheke — and was at least guilty of manslaughter — but insisted his client did not do it with murderous intent.

After allegedly shooting Ms Koroheke, the court was told of how Tai immediately dropped the gun and dropped down to Ms Koroheke’s side to attempt first aid.

Mr Kaye asked the jury if those were actions typical of someone who had intended to shoot someone.

“I suggest to you ladies and gentleman, they are not.”

Justice Muir urged the jury to put aside any concerns about the potential consequences of a verdict on either Tai or the female defendent.

Tai had to be found either guilty of murder or manslaughter.

Ms Koroheke’s father, Jason Koroheke, told the Times in March he wanted to thank the Pakuranga community for its support since Ms Koroheke’s death.

“Plus an acknowledgement to the New Zealand Police for the way they handled the case and the prosecution team. Lastly, Victim Support needs a big thanks as well.”