Two men found guilty of murdering Lee McMurdo have today
been handed hefty jail terms.
In the High Court at Auckland, both Andrew Parry Nicholson,
25 and John Grant Cuthers, 29, were sentenced to life
imprisonment. Nicholson must serve at least 17 years and
Cuthers at least 13.
Mr McMurdo's body was found by his daughter and ex-wife three
days after he is believed to have died in the early hours of
July 27, 2011 his daughter's 12th birthday.
Nicholson and Cuthers were trying to steal electronics from
Mr McMurdo's home, south of Helensville, when they killed him
Justice Graham Lang said exactly what happened would never be
known but Mr McMurdo suffered blows to the head and fractures
to the neck. He could have survived had medical help been
Instead he was left lying in the backyard as Nicholson and
Cuthers gathered his belongings to sell.
Crown prosecutor Kieran Raftery said Nicholson delivered the
violence and was "the brawn". Cuthers, "the brains", ran a
drugs operation but had not delivered any blows.
The pair had earlier visited the property to sell Mr McMurdo
methamphetamine, but the deal fell through. So they returned
to seek revenge, the Crown says.
Nicholson's lawyer Marie Dyhrberg said her client always
accepted he was responsible for Mr McMurdo's manslaughter and
was not seeking to walk free from court.
She questioned the painting of Nicholson as a henchman,
saying he had no history of violence.
"He's been labelled because he's big but there's no evidence
that he's somebody who goes there to beat up people on behalf
of Mr Cuthers."
Cuthers' lawyer Lester Cordwell said his client felt shame
and regret for his actions. He was now clean of drugs and
looked back "with almost disbelief" to that time in his life.
McMurdo's father Bruce McMurdo read a victim impact statement
to the court where he said he worried about the impact on his
granddaughter. Meanwhile his wife Sue had become withdrawn
"I stand here before you today talking about what can only be
described as a parent's worst nightmare.
"How does one live with the fact that their youngest child
has been taken from them in such a horrific and violent
Bruce McMurdo described his son as respectful, although his
life hit a rocky patch in his final few months as he become
involved in the drugs world.
"The old saying of 'time heals wounds' is a fallacy. This
wound is one that will never be healed and is one that we
will carry on our shoulders for the rest of our lives," he
Nicholson and Cuthers' sentences also covered drug offending
- By Jimmy Ellingham of APNZ