'Pure evil' jailed for life

04:14, Jun 05 2013
Gavin Gosnell
LOCKED UP: Gavin Gosnell has been jailed for 18 years for murdering Christchurch teenager Hayden Miles.

Gavin John Gosnell - dismissed as an "evil nobody" by the family of his victim - has been jailed for at least 18 years for the murder and dismemberment of teenager Hayden Peter Miles.

Gosnell, an unemployed 28-year-old, was convicted by a jury on April 16 of the murder of the 15-year-old at the end of a seven-day trial.

He had admitted a charge of "offering indignities to a dead human body" - the dismemberment of Hayden, who was found buried in different graves at cemeteries.

Hayden Miles
VICTIM: Hayden Miles.

Justice Chisholm told the High Court in Christchurch that before the sentencing began Gosnell had dismissed his counsel, Craig Ruane, who had represented him throughout the trial, and he had appointed Ruane as an amicus curiae, or friend of the court.

Ruane would make his submissions and then Gosnell would have a chance to speak to the court himself.

Gosnell read a statement to the court saying that he wanted to appeal against his conviction because he believed there had been a miscarriage of justice and he had been unjustly convicted of murder.


Jacqui Miles
FAMILY: Hayden Miles' mother, right, and aunt.

He apologised to the family for the prospects of a retrial.

He said he took responsibility for assaulting Hayden and dismembering his body, but he could not take responsibility for his death or his murder.

"I am not a murderer and I did not murder Hayden Miles," he said.

He said he was disgusted with himself for disposing of the body.

Outside court, a tearful Jacqui Miles held up a photo of her son, saying, "This is for you Hayden. We did it. Eighteen years."

Standing beside her, her sister, Sandy Ward, said the family was thankful Gosnell was sentenced to as much as possible, but they believed "life should be life in prison".

"No sentence will ever be enough for the inhumane, disturbing and cruel way in which Hayden's life was taken from him,'' she said.

"Our family can now concentrate of rebuilding our lives to some sort of normality and focus on the loving memories we have of our Hayden."

Speaking on behalf of Hayden's father's family, lawyer Andrew Riches said they felt the sentence was appropriate and they had finally achieved justice for Hayden.

"While it's never going to bring Hayden back ... they can rest assured that Gavin's not going to have any ability to harm another person for quite some time to come."

He said the family was "not particularly concerned" by Gosnell's comments in court, where Gosnell claimed he was not a murderer and that he would appeal against his conviction.

"They simply want to move forward and focus on Hayden's life," Riches said.

Seven Miles family members read statements to the court.

Jacqui Miles told the court that it was 652 days since she had seen her beautiful son.

"I am living a horrific nightmare that I can't wake up from."

She said that her son had been murdered "in a gruesome and evil way".

Hayden had gone missing in August 2011 and it had been 111 days before it was known what had happened to him.

"To find out that Hayden had been murdered and then dismembered brought me to my knees," she said. "My family is forever broken."

She was tormented by thoughts of Gosnell laughing and mocking Hayden while the teenager cried and begged for Gosnell to stop the fatal beating.

She said she would speak for Hayden, demanding of Gosnell: "How dare you beat and torment me? How dare you dismember my body and bury me in graves? My family buried me with dignity. I am missed every single day."

Another family member said: "I know now there is such a thing as pure evil."

Other family members said they would not focus on vengeance and hate, and dismissed Gosnell as a nobody who would be forgotten.

Two complained about having to rewrite their victim-impact statements to comply with the law and not being allowed to speak freely.

A statement read for an aunt and some cousins said: "We cannot imagine the absolute horror that Hayden went through."

A statement from his grandmother, Maureen Miles, said: "It is difficult to believe there are persons among us who are capable of such a macabre and evil deed."

A statement from Hayden's father, Peter, said he had been left with feelings of anger and rage towards Gosnell.

He spoke of family members suffering from low mood, nightmares and anxiety.

Hayden was described as a difficult teenager who was sometimes unhappy, self-destructive and suicidal.

Crown prosecutor Barnaby Hawes said Gosnell should be sentenced on the basis that the murder involved "a high level of brutality, cruelty and callousness".

Ruane said it was open to the court to sentence on the basis that the jury had found Gosnell guilty on the basis of a recklessness about whether the victim died, rather than an intention to kill.

He said the dismemberment of the body should be seen as "a panicked response to actions which were not intended".

Justice Chisholm said Hayden was drinking with Gosnell and Gosnell's partner at their flat when Gosnell flew into a rage over a comment that the teenager made.

A prolonged beating involving punching and kicking followed. It involved Gosnell trying to break Hayden's arms and legs, and it resumed three or four times.

Hayden was screaming and crying, while Gosnell laughed.

Hayden was not breathing properly and suffered a bleeding brain injury during the night after being put to bed.

His body was cut up the next day by Gosnell. A witness described him as again laughing.

Hayden's disappearance after he was buried in different graveyards had been a horrific ordeal for the family.

Justice Chisholm said Gosnell had had a difficult life and was estranged from his family.

He had a violent propensity as well as alcohol and drug issues.

He had 60 previous convictions and had spent a lot of the past 14 years in prison. His record included convictions for low-level violence.

Justice Chisholm found that there had been a high level of brutality, cruelty, depravity and callousness involved in the murder and jailed Gosnell for life, with a minimum non-parole term of 18 years.

"These were the actions of a bully in the ultimate extreme," he said.

The desecration of the body had been sickening, but Gosnell's apparent enjoyment had been "beyond belief".

The Press