Journalist's killer pleads guilty

Last updated 16:45 03/07/2013
Derek Round
DEREK ROUND: Killed in May last year.
Michael Umanui Werahiko
PLEADED GUILTY: Michael Umanui Werahiko

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A man has admitted killing veteran journalist Derek Round in Whanganui last year.

But Michael Umanui Werahiko, 32, may yet attempt to reduce his sentence with a plea that he was provoked into attacking the 77-year-old on May 16, 2012.

Round had head injuries and bone fractures among the many injuries he suffered when he was beaten to death.

In the High Court at Wellington today Justice Alan MacKenzie declined to release the Crown summary of what Werahiko is alleged to have done.

Werahiko's lawyer, Peter Brosnahan, said Werahiko will give a signed statement of the matters he wants to raise as provocation. Other proposed witnesses might also give statements about historical matters.

The information would be given to the Crown and a decision made on whether there needed to be another hearing to explore the issue of provocation.

In the meantime, despite his plea, Werahiko has not been convicted of murder. Brosnahan said entering the conviction would change Werahiko's security classification in prison and change the arrangements for him to see his lawyers.

Crown Prosecutor Lance Rowe agreed to the conviction not being entered. He said that given the matters that still need to "unfold" it was important that Werahiko's lawyers had good access to him.

Werahiko's sentencing has been set for late August.

It has previously been reported that Round knew Werahiko through a gym they both attended.

Werahiko had just been released from a short jail term at the time he murdered Round.

After Round's body was found police appealed for sightings of his distinctive blue Jaguar car that was apparently being driven by someone else in the hours after he was beaten.  

Round had been a foreign correspondent for Reuters and editor at the now-defunct New Zealand Press Association.

In 2010 he received a New Zealand Order of Merit award for services to journalism. He was writing an autobiography at the time of his death.

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- The Dominion Post

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