Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Man sentenced to prison for role in Wiremu Arapo’s death

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Wiremu Arapo’s house in Cockle Bay caught fire in October, 2020. File photo supplied

One of the men convicted over the death of east Auckland personal trainer Wiremu Arapo has been sentenced to prison for his role in the crime.

Arapo, 27, was found dead at his home in Minerva Terrace, Cockle Bay, after it caught fire on October 20, 2020.

Police eventually arrested and charged Sean Hayde and Gregory Hart over Arapo’s death.

The pair went on trial at the Auckland High Court before a jury and Justice Geoffrey Venning on September 11.

Hayde, who lived in Bucklands Beach, was found guilty of Arapo’s murder and perverting the course of justice.

He was also found guilty of assault and threatening to kill in relation to a domestic violence incident involving a former partner.

Hart was found guilty of manslaughter and attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Forensic evidence showed Arapo died from multiple blunt force trauma injuries to his head and neck.

The severe injuries included fractures to his face and head, and the hyoid bone in his neck.

Hart, 35, appeared in the Auckland High Court on November 24 to be sentenced.

Justice Venning’s sentencing notes in the case state Hayde and Hart were close friends.

In the first half of 2020 Hayde introduced Hart to Arapo, who was his boxing trainer, and in about July that year Hart moved into Arapo’s Minerva Terrace home.

Problems developed between the two flatmates at the same time Hayde began a sexual relationship with one of Arapo’s female friends.

“You were often late with your payments of rent and general expenses,” Justice Venning told Hart.

“Mr Arapo was an organised and motivated person. He was annoyed you did not keep your part of the house tidy and he was frustrated at your attitude and lack of motivation.”

The situation deteriorated and on October 15, 2020, Arapo gave Hart notice to move out.

Arapo’s friendship with Hayde had broken down due to Hayde’s relationship with Arapo’s female friend.

On October 17 Hayde told Hart he was about to turn on Arapo and was going to “kick his teeth out”.

Two days later Arapo messaged Hayde warning him about how he should treat Arapo’s female friend.

“This message seems to have been the tipping point,” Justice Venning said.

“Mr Hayde became aggravated to the stage the next day he convinced you to join him in a plan where the two of you would go to Mr Arapo’s property at Minerva Terrace and give him a beating.”

The judge said Hayde and Hart consumed alcohol in the afternoon of October 20 and then went to Arapo’s house with the intention of assaulting him.

Hart asserted he was not involved in the assault but the jury and Justice Venning rejected that.

“Mr Hart, I know you continue to deny it but I find you agreed to help with a serious assault on Mr Arapo and that you participated in it.

“The jury found you guilty of manslaughter rather than murder because you lacked murderous intent yourself and you did not appreciate or understand that Mr Hayde would act with murderous intent during his assault on Mr Arapo.”

Hayde suggested setting the scene on fire and turning on the oven to make it look like the blaze was accidental.

The judge said an empty petrol can was found in the back of Hayde’s vehicle and petrol was found on Hart’s shoe.

“The two of you agreed to set fire to the property to destroy the evidence, which included Mr Arapo’s body, and an accelerant was used to do so.”

Justice Venning sentenced Hart to serve 11 years and four months in prison for his role in Arapo’s death, with no minimum term.

Hayde is scheduled to be sentenced on February 29 next year.

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