Woman remanded after gang man killing

FATHER AGAIN: Rajesh Verma.
FATHER AGAIN: Rajesh Verma.

A Petone woman has been remanded until tomorrow for the murder of Sean Verma in the stairwell of his Petone flat on Tuesday night.

Jessica Lee Keefe, 29, unemployed of Petone, is to reappear in Lower Hutt District Court to make an application for bail.

Judge Peter Butler remanded her in custody.  There was no application for name suppression.

ACCUSED: Jessica Keefe
ACCUSED: Jessica Keefe

Mr Verma, 30, died after receiving a stab wound to his chest, despite rescuers trying to save him. He leaves behind an 18-month-old son.

Supporters called out "Love you Jess" as she was returned to the cells after her brief appearance.


KILLED: Sean Verma died after being stabbed.
KILLED: Sean Verma died after being stabbed.

Rajesh Verma has been thrust back into fatherhood, taking charge of his only son's baby, after the gang member was stabbed to death.

The grieving father says he holds no grudge against the accused killer, Jessica Keefe, 29, who has been arrested in connection with the death.

Ambulance and police staff found Sean Verma, 30, a patched Mongrel Mob member, in the stairwell of the Housing New Zealand-owned Altair flats in East St, Petone, on Tuesday night.

He had a stab wound to his chest and emergency services spent an hour trying to revive him before he died.

Keefe was seen crying, with a bleeding nose and cuts and scratches on her arm, before she was handcuffed and taken away.

Police said last night that a 29-year-old woman had been charged with murder and would appear in the Lower Hutt District Court this morning.

The pair had been drinking before the incident. At the time of his death, Verma was serving a 10-month home detention sentence for attacking a man who texted his partner asking for sex.

Rajesh Verma, 57, was yesterday coming to terms with the fact that he would have to look after his 18-month-old grandson.

"Sean is gone but he gave us a present," Rajesh Verma said.

Keefe's 8-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter were being looked after by her family.

Only hours before his son was stabbed, Mr Verma received a text from him simply saying: "Bye."

"I never thought in my head that was a full and final bye he was saying to me."

Later he saw police at the East St block of flats, neighbouring his own, went to investigate and was told a "very serious" crime had been committed. He started "screaming and crying" when he was told his son was dead, and hugged his covered body as it was removed from the scene. "He was my only son . . . I am shattered."

Mr Verma said his son's relationship with Keefe was sometimes "perfect" and sometimes it was "nasty" but he was told never to interfere.

His son, a former Petone College student, was born and raised in Lower Hutt and joined the Mongrel Mob in his early 20s.

"He was a good kid - always there for us."

Neighbour Doreen Tomlinson had watched Sean Verma grow up since he was in his late teens.

"He was such a beautiful, massive person. He really was kind-hearted." Being a patched member of the Mongrel Mob did not stop "Sean being Sean", she said.

East St resident Sheralean Lamb said she saw Keefe sitting on the grass outside her apartment after the stabbing. She was crying and had a bleeding nose and scratches on at least one of her arms.

"She was in hysterics."

Mongrel Mob associate Peter Paul said he was shocked to hear of his friend's death. Gang members gathered at the scene early yesterday and performed a haka.

"I was with the bro yesterday [Tuesday]. We were having a drink - having a good time.

"He was a good man. He loved his kids and he loved his computer too," Paul said.

Preparations are being made for Verma's funeral, which is likely to be on Monday.

The Dominion Post