Teen killers jailed over 'brutal, cruel' attack

ROB KIDD
Last updated 13:05 23/05/2014

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Two teens who dragged a man around an Auckland neighbourhood "like a rag doll" before beating him to death have been jailed for life.

John Adams, 17, and Joel Lo, 19, were found guilty in March of the murder of Tamati Tupe, 23, during an unprovoked attack in the suburb of Mt Wellington in September 2012.

Adams was sentenced to a minimum term of imprisonment of 14 years, while Lo will serve at least 12 years before being eligible for parole.

Justice John Fogarty said Adams dealt most of the blows and "kicked [Tupe's] head like a football" before Lo joined him.

"There's no doubt this prolonged assault by you was brutal, cruel and highly callous," he said.

Several relatives of the victim expressed their pain at a packed High Court in Auckland this morning.

Eugene Tupe said death had been a part of his cousin's life.

His parents were both dead by the time he turned 10 and he had watched his only brother die in intensive care after being hit by a car.

"It's difficult to accept this is the end of the line for the family but more devastating than that, he was murdered for no reason at all," Tupe's uncle, Takapari Waata, said.

"Bloody devastating."

Before the unprovoked attack, Tupe had been socialising with friends and family in Mt Wellington when he decided to retrieve his car from Otara.

As he set off walking he met Adams, who was then 15 and had been drinking for the last two days with his brother, who was home from Australia.

He estimated he had consumed 50 cans of bourbon and cola and half a tinnie of cannabis during the bender.

The teen put Tupe in a headlock and began punching him in the face.

Throughout the sustained attack he repeated: "Who's your master? Who's my bitch? You're my bitch. I'm your master."

Crown prosecutor Michael Walker said that after dragging Tupe down the street, Adams came to the house where his co-offender was staying.

Lo joined him, wandering up Hillside Rd with the victim.

A witness told the court he yelled at Lo and Adams to stop but after a brief respite the vicious attack continued with punches, kicks and stomps to the victim's head.

Tupe was found on a grass verge in Hillside Rd behind a wheelie bin with a cardboard box on his head.

An autopsy found he died because of severe blood haemorrhaging on the brain and blood blocking his airways.

Lo asked to read an apology letter to the court, but Tupe's family said they were not ready to accept it.

His lawyer, Mele Tuilotolava, said he was genuinely remorseful and had "found God" since being jailed for an armed robbery he committed a couple of months before the murder.

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- Stuff

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