A Wanganui woman who murdered a neighbour she believed was
"coming on" to her partner on Valentine's Day last year has
been sentenced to life imprisonment with a non-parole period
of 13½ years.
Ana Andrea Hemara, 44, was found guilty in the High Court in
Wanganui last month of the murder of Heather Rose Simons who
suffered from cerebral palsy.
Passing sentence in the High Court in Wellington today,
Justice Robert Dobson described the crime as an act of
"This wasn't a frenzied attack," he said. "Your conduct must
be condemned in the strongest possible terms."
Hemara also received six months imprisonment, to be served
concurrently, for obstruction of justice.
The court was told earlier Hemara invited Ms Simons to her
home for a drink with her and her younger partner Michael
Douglas Christison, after noticing her hanging out washing.
But the neighbourly gesture turned into violence when Hemara
took offence at what she described as Ms Simons "coming on to
Hemara pulled Ms Simons from her chair, repeatedly punched
her head, and stomped on her back and head with her bare
feet. Ms Simons died in Wellington Hospital on February 17
without recovering from consciousness.
Defence counsel Stephen Ross said the attack was spontaneous,
fuelled by jealousy and alcohol.
"She was holding herself back and trying not to use
violence," he said. "At some point, she exploded. She
couldn't hold back any longer."
But Crown prosecutor Lance Rowe said there was no
justification for the killing. Though jealousy was a
motivation, "the reaction was grotesque and extreme".
He sought a life sentence with no parole for a minimum of 17
years imprisonment, given the severity of the crime.
Mr Rowe said the victim was vulnerable as she was weak on the
right side of her body, could not use her right hand, and was
attacked without warning.
Ms Simons was face down, crying and defenceless, he said.
Mr Ross said even though the crime had a "significant element
of brutality," it was not the most violent of cases and did
not warrant a starting point of 17 years."
Justice Dobson agreed, saying the crime did not meet the
level of brutality required for 17 years, but it was only
avoided by a small margin. Outside the court, Sylvia Judge
said her sister "didn't have a chance".
Ms Judge described her baby sister, the youngest of five, as
a neighbourly person who did a lot of charity work.
"She just loved helping people," she said "I don't see her
coming onto him (Hemara's partner) at all. I've never heard
Heather come onto anybody. Her life was her daughter."
Ms Judge said that her sister's 14-year-old daughter was
"coping extremely well".