Man admits brother's murder

BELINDA FEEK
Last updated 15:02 16/05/2014
Ongarue homicide
CATLEY EDWARDS/Fairfax NZ

MURDER SITE: The family home at Ongarue, 20 kilometres from Taumarunui, where the victim had been staying for the past few weeks.

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A Taumarunui man shot his brother point-blank before tying the body to the back of a car and driving more than 1 kilometre up the road.

Benjamin Wikaira, 58, then turned off Ngakonui-Ongarue Rd and onto the gravel road of Ongarue Back Rd, with the body of his older brother, Nikora, dragging behind. He then accidentally reversed over the body, which he had wrapped in a tarpaulin.

The circumstances surrounding Nikora Wikaira's death were revealed in the High Court in Hamilton today after Benjamin Wikaira admitted a charge of murder after the incident on November 9 last year.

Benjamin Wikaira had loaded a rifle before jumping on his horse and going to the house of his cousin, Andrew Ngarotata, where he found his brother, Nikora, 59.

Benjamin needed money to pay his power bill and asked Nikora where the $6000 was that Benjamin believed he owed him.

Nikora went to get up from an armchair in the lounge when Benjamin fired the rifle. As Nikora fell to the floor, Benjamin kicked him once in the head, before watching him die for the next five minutes.

He grabbed some electrical cable, tied it around his brother's feet before dragging him about 50 metres through the house and to the back of the property.

He placed a piece of unused corrugated iron over the body and put some leaves on top.

Wikaira then went back inside and cleaned up the blood before riding home on his horse, stopping to hide the rifle along the way.

However, about 35 hours later, he returned to the house on November 11. He loaded up his brother's belongings and took them back to his own house.

Wikaira then decided to move the body and asked his cousin to help, but Ngarotata refused.

Wikaira returned to the site with a block and tackle pulley system, but his bid to load the body into the boot using it was unsuccessful.

Wikaira eventually decided to wrap his brother's body in a tarpaulin with a piece of wood inside. He tied a rope around his brother's torso and tied the other end to his brother's car for the 1.4km trip to the family's bush block.

After turning into Ongarue Back Rd he came to a stop at the gate, maneuvering the vehicle before accidentally reversing over his brother's body.

The car then became stuck on top of the body and he couldn't drive forward.

Wikaira unsuccessfully tried to pull the body out from under the car using the pulley system. He then decided to dig a hole around the body, causing it to drop a few centimetres and freeing the car.

It was late in the day and Wikaira decided to bury his brother in a shallow grave, covering him with soil and lengths of timber.

Wikaira then drove into pine forest in Bennetts Rd to dispose of the car. He threw the rifle and ammunition into the water. He then tried to drive the car into the river but it became stuck.

He asked a farm worker for help him push it over the cliff, but the man declined.

Wikaira was convicted by Justice Pamela Andrews and remanded in custody for sentencing in July.

He was also issued a first-strike warning as murder is a qualifying violence offence. 

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