Sister's pain over brutal murder

VICTORIA ROBINSON
Last updated 10:46 19/06/2012

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A grieving sister feels "sick" because her nephew is named after the man who murdered her sister with a 20kg concrete slab.

The case has taken seven years to be resolved because the defendant was not mentally fit to stand trial.

Buddy Roberts was sentenced in the High Court at Auckland today to life in prison, with a minimum non-parole period of 10 years for the murder of Samantha Rangiawha in 2005.

Roberts will begin his sentence at the Mason Clinic, an Auckland psychiatric unit, where he will be treated for paranoid schizophrenia.

If he recovers enough within the next ten years, he will be transferred to prison.

Roberts, now 44, was in a relationship with Rangiawha, 34, when he murdered her in December 2005.

Justice Patricia Courtney detailed how the pair was living in a caravan in Otahuhu.

One night when they were sniffing solvents together they had an argument, which turned to violence on both sides.

Justice Courtney said Rangiawha fell to the ground, and Roberts picked up a 20kg concrete slab and smashed her over the head with it, more than once.

Roberts went to trial for the murder in 2006, but a mistrial was declared and he was later found unfit to stand trial.

He was detained as a special patient at the Mason Clinic, and his mental health improved enough that earlier this year he was able to plead guilty to the murder.

In court this morning Rangiawha's sister told Roberts the loss of Rangiawha, who she called "Piri", had left her heartbroken.

She described how the sisters had been close growing up, and it wasn't until she met Roberts that Rangiawha became a "hard user" of drugs.

She said the two met soon after Rangiawha's father died, and she had still been grieving his loss.

"She was so vulnerable, I just can't help thinking that Buddy took advantage of her."

Rangiawha had six children, who were all taken away from her by social services, and became pregnant to Roberts.

She gave the baby boy his name.

"Thinking about that alone makes me sick because you murdered her," Rangiawha's sister told Roberts this morning.

The sister said the delay in justice had left her feeling "unresolved, empty", and she was scared Roberts would never spend a day in prison.

"It's an awful thought to know Buddy will be out one day and Piri will still be dead."

She said she was angry Roberts might get the chance to raise his child, who was in his mother's custody.

Justice Courtney thanked the sister for her statement, and assured her that "to be a resident at the Mason Clinic is not a holiday by any stretch".

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The judge acknowledged Roberts' turbulent upbringing as one of 11 children raised by a violent father.

She said he been using drugs, alcohol and solvents since he was young and had been associated with the Black Power gang.

Roberts has several children, but has contact only with his child with Rangiawha.

Justice Courtney said she was satisfied she needed to sentence Roberts to spend more time in the Mason Clinic, because he did not understand his illness and had expressed a wish to discontinue his medication.

"All I can do is wish you luck in the journey before you, because I'm sure there are more difficult years to come."

- Auckland Now

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