Journalist's killer jailed for life

A man who murdered a veteran journalist at his Wanganui home in May 2012 has been sentenced to life in prison for the "callous, cruel" killing.

Michael Umanui Werahiko, 31, appeared for sentencing today in the High Court at Wanganui. He dismissed defence counsel Peter Brosnahan and Debbie Goodlet when the sentencing began, prompting a discussion with Justice Young which cannot be reported. Werahiko represented himself for the remainder of the hearing but was silent.

Reading from the summary of facts, Justice Young said Werahiko had met Mr Round, 77, at a gym in Wanganui and struck up a friendship despite the age difference. Over six months in late 2011 the pair spent "some time together" as Werahiko said he would turn his life around.

However he committed further crimes and was sent to prison, being released in May 2012. Upon his release he spent time with Mr Round at the latter's Campbell St home, drinking alcohol. Werahiko went to several bars and clubs where he was said to be disruptive and abusive. After his return Werahiko slept in Mr Round's home and, when he woke, punched Mr Round in the face.

He proceeded to "violently attack" Mr Round with his fists and kick and stomp on his head.

"Mr Round crawled around his home in an effort to get away from you, but you pursued him," Justice Young said.

After further attacks Werahiko took Mr Round's car and disposed of his clothes and the car's bloodied floor mat. The next day he returned to Mr Round's home and, seeing him in the same place he was when he left before, told a passersby of his death.

"He suffered extensive injuries to his head, neck and torso.

"You told police you had nothing to do with Mr Round's death - that was clearly a lie. He showed you kindness and decency which you repaid with gross violence which killed him," Justice Young said.

Werahiko was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of 15 years.

Wanganui Chronicle

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