James Te Hiko admits causing partner's death but denies murder

Jamie Te Hiko in the High Court at Rotorua.
TONY WALL/FAIRFAX NZ

Jamie Te Hiko in the High Court at Rotorua.

A man who brutally bashed his partner later phoned police and said: "I have killed her with my hands and feet. I have beaten her and killed her," the High Court at Rotorua has heard.

James William Te Hiko, 44, is charged with murdering of Queenie Karaka, also known as Selena Thompson, at his home near Atiamuri in April last year. 

The Waikato man admits causing her death but denies he intended for her to die.

Queenie Karaka, also known as Selena Thompson, was killed in her attacker's home near Atiamuri.
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Queenie Karaka, also known as Selena Thompson, was killed in her attacker's home near Atiamuri.

Crown prosecutor Amanda Gordon said the assault was so brutal and sustained that Te Hiko must have known Thompson, known to friends as "Nina", would not survive.

READ MORE: Man arrested in homicide investigation

Te Hiko's mother, Lexi Te Hiko, took the stand during the first day of his trial on Monday and testified that her son called her that morning.

"He just started mumbling and sniffling - I knew something was wrong," he said.

"I said 'what's the matter James?' He wouldn't speak properly, he was sort of saying 'mum, mum'. He just said 'I did it mum'."

She asked him what he'd done.

"He didn't say anything, he just kept saying 'mum'. I've never heard him like that before, ever. He was gone, he couldn't speak most of the time."

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Lexi Te Hiko said she had an "inkling" of what her son had done, and told him to call the police.

She then took her grandson to her daughter's place in Atiamuri and when she returned she saw James Te Hiko handcuffed in the back of a police car.

She gave him a hug. She later told police she'd heard through others the pair had a "topsy turvy" relationship.

As she left the witness stand, she blew kisses to her son, who said: "sorry mum".

In opening the case for the Crown, Gordon said Te Hiko and Thompson had been in an on-off relationship since 2014 and the night before the incident they'd been drinking with friends and family at Ongaroto Marae village.

The next morning Te Hiko phoned his mother, crying and mumbling, and said "I did it".

He then phoned a police officer from Tokoroa and said he'd beaten and killed his partner.

When his brother came to his house from the home next door, he said: "I couldn't stop, I'm sorry Nina, I couldn't stop brother" over and over.

When his brother went into a bedroom to see if Thompson was still alive, her face was so badly bruised he didn't recognise her.

Gordon said blood was found throughout the house but mostly in the couple's bedroom, including up the walls.

Thompson must have been lying on the ground for some of the attack and had defensive injuries on her arms and bruises to almost every part of her body. Chunks of her hair were found throughout the house and even outside below a window.

A large metal pipe was also used in the attack - it was found to have the victim's blood and hair on it, Gordon said.

Te Hiko "left her to die in the bed" and meanwhile had a shower and changed his clothes, attempting to mop up the blood with towels.

Gordon said Te Hiko told his sister he had beaten up his partner "because she told him she'd been mucking around on him".

Defence lawyer Harry Edward said his client's position was that he accepted he had caused Thompson's death but was not acting recklessly and didn't know his actions would kill her.

"He's not trying to say he's done nothing wrong, he's saying I did something horrible ... but I did not intend to kill her."

 - Stuff

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