Hitchhiker jailed for killing man

Last updated 11:33 31/10/2012
Morgan Knight
MORGAN KNIGHT: Pleaded guilty to the murder of Gordon Tunnicliffe, 64.

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An Auckland man offered work and a place to stay overnight by a  Tokaanu man bashed him to death after an "unwelcome sexual advance" by the victim, a Rotorua court was told.

Morgan Wayne Knight, 21, was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of 10 years in the High Court at Rotorua today for the murder of Gordon Tunnicliffe, 64, at Tokaanu on April 13.

Knight pleaded guilty to the murder at a pre-trial callover.

Knight was given a lift by Tunnicliffe while hitchhiking near Taupo and offered work to trim trees and a bed overnight at his home near Tokaanu.

Late the same night the pair were watching television when Knight overreacted to a sexual advance by the victim who lent across and touched his crotch area, the court heard.

Knight bashed the victim unconscious around the head and chest, stomping on his head five to six times, and leaving him lying on the floor bleeding while he ransacked his house and stole the victim’s property.

Tunnicliffe died two weeks later in Hastings from the injuries.

Knight was arrested soon after by police, who had been alerted by neighbours. He was wearing the victim's shoes covered in his blood and in possession of the victim's laptop, cellphone, wallet, car keys and four bottles of wine.

In sentencing Knight, Justice Kit Toogood described him as "loner and drifter" with no moral or social compass.

Knight's actions was a "spontaneous overreaction to an unwelcome sexual advance," he said.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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