Thursday, April 25, 2024

Murderer to serve at least 17 years in prison

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Wiremu Arapo was found dead after his house in Minerva Terrace, Cockle Bay, was set alight in October, 2020. File photo supplied

A malevolent plot that left a man dead and his house destroyed by fire has seen one of the culprits sentenced to life imprisonment for his role in the violent killing.

Personal trainer Wiremu Arapo, 27, was found dead at his home in Minerva Terrace, Cockle Bay, after it was set alight on October 20, 2020. He’d been the victim of a violent assault.

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.

Sean Hayde and Gregory Hart were arrested and charged over Arapo’s death and went on trial at the Auckland High court before a jury and Justice Geoffrey Venning in September last year.

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.

He was recently sentenced to serve 11 years and four months in prison for his role in Arapo’s death, with no minimum term.

Hayde appeared in the Auckland High Court to be sentenced by Justice Venning on February 29.

The court previously heard Hayde and Hart had been 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.

Hart was often late with his rent payments and general expenses. Arapo was organised and motivated.

He became annoyed Hart didn’t keep his part of the house tidy and was frustrated at his attitude.

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 sent Hayde a message warning him about how he was treating Arapo’s female friend.

“That message seems to have been the tipping point,” Justice Venning told Hayde during his sentencing.

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

Hayde and Hart spent the following afternoon drinking alcohol at Hayde’s Bucklands Beach home.

Just before 6pm that day the pair went to Arapo’s home and assaulted him.

Hayde set fire to Arapo’s two-storey house in an attempt to cover up the crime and to avoid the consequences, Justice Venning said.

“You did so knowing and intending that Mr Arapo’s body would be burned in the process.”

The judge said Hayde had also assaulted his partner while she was getting ready for work on August 31, 2020.

“During the incident you pulled her off the toilet by her hair, pushed her up against a linen cupboard by her upper chest and neck, held her down on the bed by her wrists and kicked her from behind and in her back while she was attempting to pack and leave.

“You also threatened to kill her, by threatening to set the house on fire and not let her leave.”

Hayde was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of 17 years for murder.

He also received a concurrent six-year prison sentence for perverting the course of justice and six months’ in prison for assaulting and threatening to kill his partner.

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