Man murdered over sexual advance

MORGAN KNIGHT: Pleaded guilty to the murder of Gordon Tunnicliffe, 64.
MORGAN KNIGHT: Pleaded guilty to the murder of Gordon Tunnicliffe, 64.

An Auckland man offered work and a place to stay overnight by an elderly Tokaanu man returned the favour by bashing him to death after an "unwelcome sexual advance" by the victim, a Rotorua court was told.

Morgan Wayne Knight, 21, was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of 10 years in the High Court at Rotorua today for the murder of Gordon Tunnicliffe, 64, at Tokaanu on April 13.

Knight pleaded guilty to the murder at a pre-trial callover.

Knight was given a lift by Mr Tunnicliffe while hitchhiking near Taupo and offered work to trim trees and a bed overnight at his home near Tokaanu.

Late the same night the pair were watching television when Knight overreacted to a sexual advance by the victim who lent across and touched his crotch area, the court heard.

Knight bashed the victim unconscious around the head and chest, stomping on his head 5-6 times, and leaving him lying on the floor bleeding while he ransacked his house and stole the victim's property.

Mr Tunnicliffe died two weeks later in Hastings from the injuries.

Knight was arrested soon after by police, who had been alerted by neighbours, wearing the victim's shoes covered in his blood, and in possession of the victim's laptop, cellphone, wallet, car keys and four bottles of wine.

In sentencing Justice Kit Toogood described Knight as "loner and drifter" with no moral or social compass.

Knight's actions were a "spontaneous overreaction to an unwelcome sexual advance," he said.

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