Darrin Wilkie-Morris' violent past revealed as he is jailed for role in Stevens murder
Why Matthew Stevens was lured to a flat in Lower Hutt and murdered, before being dumped on the Paekakariki Hill Road, remains unclear as the last of three people involved in his killing was jailed.
Darrin Wilkie-Morris, who has "chaos skins" tattooed on his brow, and a swastika on his hand, was sentenced to five years and one month in jail by Justice Denis Clifford at the Wellington High Court on Tuesday.
Wilkie-Morris had not dealt the knife blows that killed Stevens, but he had taken part in the plot, in which Kelly Crook was tasked with luring Stevens to an ambush, and Stuart Wilton stabbed him.
None of the prosecution's summaries of the trio's roles has ever explained any motive for the clearly planned attack, and the Stevens family – mum Chrissie, dad David and sister Emma, who have stoically attended every court hearing – are at a loss to understand it.
* Kelly Leigh Crook jailed for role in Matthew Stevens' murder
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* Friends farewell slain Hutt man
* Mystery deepens over hillside body recovery
"Our minds and hearts cannot even begin to comprehend why these people would do this to him," they said in a statement.
As Emma put it: "What these people did to him, the brutality and callousness of it all – it was clearly premeditated."
The last words the family heard from 32-year-old Matthew as he was about to go to Crook's flat in Epuni, Lower Hutt, in November 2014 were: "I'm only going to be an hour, Mum, I'm just going to help someone."
They never saw him alive again.
Stevens was a church-going family-orientated outdoorsman, who was soon to graduate from his truck-drivers' course. He had done missionary work in the Philippines, acted as an extra in Avatar and King Kong, and painted houses for a living.
How he came to be mixed up with a violent criminal like Wilkie-Morris is one of the many mysteries of the story.
Wilkie-Morris, 25, blinked hard repeatedly as the judge reprimanded him on Tuesday for a senseless crime.
"Mr Stevens' violent and pointless death, and the callous way you dealt with him afterwards, has caused enormous sadness and trauma to his parents, his sister, and his wider family," the judge said.
"It would appear you have little – if any – remorse for your actions. I hope, perhaps somewhat optimistically, in time you will think about what happened that day and show some human remorse and understanding for your victims and your actions."
Wilkie-Morris – who had arranged the violent ambush of another man in 2008 – earlier pleaded guilty to injuring Stevens with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and being an accessory after the fact of the murder.
On November 27, 2014, Stevens, 32, left his Lower Hutt home, picked up a six-pack of beer, and made his way to Crook's flat in Oxford Tce, Epuni.
Unbeknown to him, as the pair sent messages back and forth, Wilton and Wilkie-Morris, who was Crook's boyfriend, were circling Lower Hutt in their car, receiving updates on Stevens' movements.
Stevens had received violent threats from Wilkie-Morris in the past, and he expressed concerns to Crook, who falsely assured him she was alone and he was out of town.
About 10.48pm Stevens arrived at the house and they went upstairs to her bedroom, which doubled as a lounge, and began to drink and socialise.
Two other associates of the group were outside when Wilton and Wilkie-Morris arrived. The pair went into the bedroom and screaming and shouting was heard.
Wilkie-Morris hit Stevens on the head and right knee with a hammer.
Wilton lunged at Stevens and stabbed him twice in the chest, piercing his heart, and once in his lower back.
Stevens died in the bedroom. A 10-year-old child heard the commotion and saw Stevens body at the bottom of a staircase, with Wilton standing over him holding a bloody knife.
Crook, Wilton and Wilkie-Morris returned to Crook's flat, and set about cleaning the crime scene. They laundered bloody clothing and concealed the weapons.
Together, they drove Stevens to the summit of Paekakariki Hill Road in a van.
They dumped him over a steep, bush-covered gully, then pushed his car off into the undergrowth. The white Toyota Corolla came to rest just above Stevens' battered and bleeding body.
Wilkie-Morris was the ringleader of a violent robbery in 2008 in which another victim was left for dead at a roadside.
He had arranged for an old friend to buy a car from his accomplice, while all along planning to steal the $8000 cash meant for the trade.
They took their victim drinking, then had a woman friend lure him into a bush with the promise of sex, so Wilkie-Morris and two other men could prepare for the bashing.
Wilkie-Morris punched the man in the head until the victim played dead so the attack would stop. He was left bleeding on the roadside.
Wilkie-Morris was identified as the ringleader of that attack and sentenced for four and a half years, after an appeal, in 2010.
He had also been involved in an incident involving a kidnapping, aggravated robbery and assault in 2007, Judge Clifford noted.