Jailed over drugs robbery death

Last updated 10:04 03/04/2014

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Two Auckland men who killed a cannabis dealer while robbing him of four "tinnies" have been jailed.

Trevor Tafutu, 36, and Simona Liatoa, 35, pleaded guilty to aggravated robbery, assault and the manslaughter of Michael Roberts, 48, also known as Michael Lance Rapata.

The men were initially charged with murder but pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

Tafutu is an affiliate of the King Cobra gang though through his lawyer he said he was not a patched member and he just "happened to kick around with those guys".

Justice Geoffrey Venning told the High Court at Auckland that on the night of February 11, 2013, the pair went to Roberts' Three Kings home and discussed using violence to get cannabis.

They forced their way in to the house and punched Roberts' partner.

They launched a brutal attack on Roberts, punching him to the ground and continuing to beat him while they identified themselves as part of a gang.

Roberts' partner escaped and rang police from a neighbour's house.

Tafutu and Liatoa stole four tinnies of cannabis and fled.

Roberts had a heart attack after they left and died in front of his partner.

Tafutu was arrested by police in Grey Lynn. Liatoa went on the run but was arrested shortly afterward. He told police the attack was part of a "taxing" mission for a gang.

The pair had a restorative justice session with Roberts' partner and though she accepted Liatoa's apology she did not think Tafutu was remorseful.

Justice Venning said Tafutu was the lead in the offending. His previous convictions included eight assaults and one count of wounding with intent. He was also on release conditions from a previous sentence when he carried out the attack.

Liatoa had several violent offences in his past but he had expressed "genuine remorse".

Tafutu was jailed for six years, 10 months. Liatoa was jailed for five years, 10 months.

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