The sister of a murdered woman told the killer today that she
wished he could feel her pain.
Gene Hepana, 40, was sentenced at the High Court at Auckland
today to life in prison with a minimum non-parole period of
He pleaded guilty in February to murdering Jasmine Cooper,
26, at her Northland home on December 23 last year.
At his sentencing today, Ms Cooper's sister Crystal Cooper
said words could not explain how much she missed her murdered
"I can't get it out of my head."
Reading her victim impact statement, Crystal told Hepana she
had now become a mother of five after taking in her sister's
"He's now having bad dreams about you chasing his mum ... you
did this to him and I'm having to pick up the pieces.
"You left a little boy without his mother, he was the only
person she truly loved.
"I wish I could make you feel our pain. I hope you know what
you have done and how you have affected our lives."
At the High Court today Justice Graham Lang said he had no
other option but to impose a sentence of life imprisonment,
taking into account Hepana's previous convictions and lack of
The public gallery was filled with about 30 friends and
family of Ms Cooper, who had travelled to Auckland from Te
Hana and Rotorua to witness the sentencing of her murderer.
Ms Cooper had entered a relationship with Hepana last July,
until it came to a violent end in November, Justice Lang
He said Hepana attacked a vulnerable woman living alone in
her house in the middle of the night while a trespass order
was place against him.
Crown lawyer Natalie Walker told the court Hepana had five
previous convictions for assaulting women and two for
wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.
The grievous bodily harm convictions stemmed from an incident
where Hepana attacked his half-brother with a tomahawk and
stabbed another man in the abdomen with a knife. He was
jailed for 10 years over the incident.
Ms Cooper texted her sister before she was killed, saying
someone was "creeping around" her house in Te Hana, just
north of Wellsford.
Ms Walker told the court that shortly after midnight, Hepana
went into Ms Cooper's home and strangled her before dragging
her outside her house.
When she came to, he strangled her again, rendering her
unconscious, before beating her around the face and throat
with a rock, killing her.
Hepana's lawyer Michael Levett said he had been instructed by
his client not to argue for any form of sentence reduction.
- By Brendan Manning of APNZ