Tai guilty of murder

Turiarangi Tai has been found guilty of the murder of 22-year-old Chozyn Koroheke.

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 in the High Court at Auckland 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, 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 verbal spats between the two were nothing more than “hot air” in his closing address on Friday.

He told the jury 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. Justice Muir reminded the jury that if they do not return a guilty of murder verdict for Tai then his co-defendant could not be found guilty of accessory after the fact of murder but could be found guilty of being an accessory after the fact of crime.

Ms Koroheke’s father, Jason Koroheke, told the Times 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.”

Tai will be sentenced on June 29.