Tagger killer Bruce Emery to be freed

BY NEIL REID
Last updated 11:13 03/01/2010
Bruce Emery is to be freed from jail this month.
JOHN SELKIRK/Fairfax Media
NO PAROLE: Bruce Emery was jailed in February last year for four years and three months for stabbing to death the teenager.

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Tagger killer Bruce Emery is to be freed from jail this month - less than a year after being sentenced for the manslaughter of a 15-year-old he caught tagging his garage.

His release from prison on home detention will be decided as early as Tuesday.

Neighbours spoken to by Sunday News have mixed reactions to Emery's return to their south Auckland suburb.

"I certainly won't be going down there to wish him all the best on his release. If anything, he should sell up and leave," said one who has known Emery for 16 years.

Family of Emery's victim, Pihema Cameron, live just 33 houses away from the 52-year-old businessman's Manurewa home.

Emery's wife, Sotju, and their three teenage daughters are believed to be on holiday.

A large dog was patrolling the two-storey house, fitted out with an array of sensor lights, on Wednesday and Thursday.

Emery received death threats in the wake of his headline-grabbing charging and trial. Prison sources said Killer Beez gang members and associates discussed putting a hit on him in jail.

But police were not planning extra patrols around his Mahia Rd home after his release.

"Things are often said in the heat of the moment," Counties-Manukau police detective senior sergeant Gary Lendrum told Sunday News.

"The reality is that the house has never been damaged. And I don't believe there is any real threat to Mr Emery.

"The [Cameron] family has been portrayed as these kids who roam the streets, tag and are down-and-outers. But they are really nice people.

"That is the tragedy of it. The victim has been portrayed as this evil little kid that has been running around. But that wasn't the case at all, he was never in trouble with the police. I know everyone gets frustrated with tagging, I do myself. But the Camerons are nice people.

"And I don't think any one of those family members are likely to cause Mr Emery any harm."

However Lendrum said police surveillance would be upped "if any information comes to light at a future date".

Pihema's father, Pihama Edmonds, a tetraplegic, did not want to comment. Other family members, including Pihema's mother Leanne, have moved to Australia since his death on January 26, 2008.

About 11.30pm that night Emery spotted Pihema, who was under the influence of alcohol and cannabis, and another teen tagging his garage. He raced down from his upstairs bedroom, grabbed a knife and chased them 360 metres into a dead-end street. Moments later, Pihema was dead from a single stab wound to the chest.

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On February 13 this year, Emery was sentenced to four years and three months jail for Pihema's manslaughter - a sentence attacked by the schoolboy's family as too light.

The case grabbed national attention, and featured in a No. 1 hit by New Zealand hip-hop band Smashproof. Their song Brother featured the lyrics: "Man, take away a kid's life, just because he tagged? Damn."

Emery's release on home detention could be decided on Tuesday, when the Parole Board has its first hearing of 2010.

His lawyer Chris Comeskey said Emery had been an exemplary inmate during his 11 months in prison. "It has been a tragedy for the family of the victim, equally it has been tragic for Mr Emery and his family," he said.

"He is not an evil person. He received a punishment which was in line for similar sorts of cases of manslaughter - the whole sentencing process is about like sentences for like offending. This was a tragic, spur of the moment matter. He has always regretted it."

But Emery's imminent release was described as a "disgrace" by one of his closest neighbours.

The man, who has known Emery for 16 years, described him as a "bully", who would only confront youths near his property as long as they weren't in the presence of other adults.

"What did this kid die for? He died for a stupid piece of paint.

"It was only paint and that is what all the neighbours said at the time," said the man, who did not want to be named.

- Sunday News

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