Debt led to killing, court told

07:36, Feb 10 2014

A South Auckland man killed his neighbour to steal some electronics and repay a debt of less than $100, a court has heard.

Kaveinga Helotu Lavemai, 29, is on trail in the High Court in Auckland charged with the murder of Richard John Lees, 55, who lived in a sleepout next door.

Lees was found dead in the converted garage on October 12, 2012.

Lavemai was arrested after police found him at his aunt's house three days later.

He was charged with murder and the theft of a stereo and games console.

Crown prosecutor Alysha McClintock said the defendant's life followed a simple pattern.


“He didn't work or have any source of money aside from what his girlfriend earned working as a prostitute at Manurewa's South Mall, or what he could borrow,” she said.

“His days were spent drinking and trying to source his next box of Woodstocks or Codys.”

It is alleged he owed money to the people who lived at the property backing on to his, which prompted the incident.

“He owed them less than $100 but that wasn't the point, it had to be repaid ... they weren't the sort of people you could avoid,” McClintock said.

In an initial interview, Lavemai told police he had not been on the neighbours' property and gave them details of his movements on October 11.

However, when they told him his fingerprints had been found and family and friends had made admissions to contradict his version of events, he changed his story.

Lavemai said he entered the property and claimed to have punched Lees three times “for no reason at all”.

The Crown said that was not true and a pathologist would give evidence detailing the extent of the attack.

“It wasn't one, two or three blows, it was multiple forceful blows and they caused substantial damage," McClintock said.

"The force of the blows caused bleeding to the head and airways and [Lees] died as a result.”

The victim had lived at the Great South Rd property for only a couple of days and suffered from a major depressive disorder, the medication for which left him drowsy, McClintock said.

Lavemai's lawyer, Hermann Retzlaff, said the defence's case was simple: “Kaveinga Lavemai did not cause the death of Richard Lees.”

The trial, in front of a jury of seven women and five men, is due to last four weeks.

Fairfax Media