Kelly Leigh Crook jailed for role in Lower Hutt man Matthew Stevens' murder
A woman who admitted luring Lower Hutt man Matthew Stevens to his murder, and then tried to clean up the crime scene, has been sentenced to three years and four months in jail.
Kelly Leigh Crook, 29, was sentenced at the High Court at Wellington on Thursday morning for her role in luring Stevens, 32, to a deadly ambush on November 27, 2014.
Justice Susan Thomas sentenced Crook on charges of causing grievous bodily harm to Stevens with intent to injure him, and with being an accessory after the fact to his murder.
Family members sobbed in the public gallery as details of the crime were read to the court.
Crook's partner of three months, Darrin John Wilkie-Morris, had threatened Stevens with violence previously, the Crown summary read during the sentencing said.
Crook lied to Stevens that night in a Facebook conversation, telling him Wilkie-Morris was was out of town.
In doing so, Crook had "lured" Stevens to her home, Crown prosecutor Kate Feltham told the court.
Stevens accepted Crook's invitation and said he would come over. Meanwhile, Crook was passing the information on Stevens' movements to Wilkie-Morris and their friend, Stuart Graham Wilton.
The two men had left the house and been driving around Lower Hutt waiting for Stevens to arrive at Crook's flat in Oxford St, Epuni.
Stevens arrived there about 10.40pm. Crook took him upstairs into the bedroom and lounge and began socialising but, unknown to him, she had told Wilkie-Morris and Wilton and they arrived at the house.
The men went upstairs and Wilkie-Morris hit Stevens in the head and knee with a hammer, and Wilton stabbed him three times, killing him.
The summary said a 10-year-old girl at the house saw Stevens' body.
The trio attempted to clean up the crime scene, then drove Stevens' body in a van to the top of a steep bush-covered gully at the Paekakariki Hill Road summit.
Stevens' body was rolled down the drop and the car was pushed over at the same place.
Then the trio went back to Crook's flat and continued with the cleanup, laundering towels and clothes and concealing weapons.
Crook later told the police she helped with the cleanup and the attempt to get rid of Stevens' body because Wilton had threatened her.
Her lawyer, Paul Paino, said Crook had a turbulent adolescence and a history of "bad relationships", and she felt remorse for her part in the killing.
The police evidence backed up her claim that she had not known the men were bringing weapons to the confrontation, and that she had run screaming for someone to take the hammer away when she saw it, Paino said.
In sentencing Crook, Thomas said the death had devastated Stevens' family.
His younger sister, Emma Stevens, read an emotional victim impact statement, telling Crook the family felt the pain of his absence every day. He was about to qualify as a truck driver before he was killed.
She relived the imagery of his final moments "like a horror movie":
"You robbed him of his plans and dreams in life, and you robbed us too," Stevens said.
She told Crook she had lured her brother and dumped his body "like he had no value".
"Knowing that your faces were the last he saw ... who are you to do this to him?"
Stevens said she remained unable to return to work and had moved in with her parents as she struggled to process the way she lost her only sibling.
Wilton has already pleaded guilty to murdering Stevens, and has been sentenced to serve at least 11 years of a life term.
Both Wilkie-Morris and Crooks were initially charged with murder too. Wilkie-Morris pleaded guilty to the lesser charges of causing grievous bodily harm, and being an accessory after the fact of murder.