Man admits neighbour murder

Last updated 15:48 17/12/2013
Mary Donnelly
VICTIM: Mary Donnelly.

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A former neighbour of Upper Hutt woman Mary Donnelly, found dead in her flat in August last year, has pleaded guilty of murdering her.

Kharn Tamaka, 29, unemployed, entered his plea in the High Court at Wellington this afternoon. He is in custody pending sentencing in February.

Justice Ron Young has asked for a report about Tamaka's mental and intellectual state.

Donnelly was strangled and her sister and a concerned associate found her semi-naked body in her flat after she failed to keep an appointment on August 30, 2012.

Tamaka and Donnelly, 38, had been neighbours at flats in Ebdentown St, Upper Hutt, in 2011, according to a summary of the evidence against Tamaka.

Donnelly had an intellectual disability, but lived independently with help from a support worker who took her shopping and checked on her welfare each week.

On August 29, 2012, CCTV footage showed her walking to the train station with Tamaka following her at a short distance.

Donnelly took a cooking class at the Hutt Valley Disabled Resource Centre that ended in the early afternoon.

A person doing maintenance at the flats saw Donnelly alive at about 5.30pm with Tamaka, and heard Tamaka say words to the effect that he would return.

At about 11pm, Donnelly's neighbour heard a knock at the door and recognised Tamaka's voice.

Donnelly missed an appointment the following day. An associate contacted her sister and they found her dead in her bed.

She was found to have injuries to her neck consistent with someone plutting their hands or forearm across her throat and applying pressure. One of her fingernails had been bent right back and broken.

Tamaka's DNA was found under her fingernails. However, he had told police that he hadn't been at Ebdentown St for about a year and didn't know who Mary Donnelly was.

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