Life sentence for murder of elderly Polish tourist

MIKE WATSON
Last updated 05:00 07/12/2012
Rawiri James Samuel
Fairfax NZ
JAILED: Rawiri James Samuel is sentenced in the Rotorua High Court for the murder of Polish man Roman Skorek.

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A Rotorua man has been jailed for at least 12 years for his part in beating and stabbing to death an elderly tourist who befriended a group of four men in a park while holidaying in the city.

Roman Skorek, 64, visiting from Niue, met the group in a thermal hot bath in Kuirau Park in January. They were drunk on alcohol stolen from a supermarket.

They offered Mr Skorek a drink but became angry with him when he appeared to take a sexual interest in one of them.

He was hit in the face by Rawiri James Samuel, 22, and kicked and punched for up to 10 minutes by the others while he lay on the ground. He suffered fractures to his face and skull, and was left near death, the High Court at Rotorua was told. The group stole his backpack and a 10cm-long knife.

Fearing Mr Skorek would remember their faces, the group later returned and kicked him again on his body and head.

Samuel told police he stabbed Mr Skorek in the face and upper chest before giving the knife to another person in the group.

He pleaded guilty to murder, but Justice Mary Peters, sentencing him to life imprisonment yesterday, said it was not clear whether he had inflicted the fatal blow.

"The fatal wound may have been caused by someone else [in the group] but the whole point of going back was to kill the victim," she said.

Whether Polish-born Mr Skorek had made advances to one of the group was "entirely irrelevant" and did not warrant the reaction shown by Samuel.

A victim impact statement read to the court from Mr Skorek's daughter told how her father had suffered a violent attack many thousands of kilometres from his home.

Three other men - Simon Herewini, 21, Leslie McKay Glen, 14, and William Karauna Edwards, 15 - have pleaded not guilty to murder and will stand trial in the High Court in Feburary.

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- The Dominion Post

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