Friend’s body left to rot

Aleisha Dawson has been jailed after dumping her friend’s body near Kilmog Hill. PHOTO: CHRISTINE...
Aleisha Dawson has been jailed after dumping her friend’s body near Kilmog Hill. PHOTO: CHRISTINE O’CONNOR
Aleisha Cherie Dawson took the body of her friend, a man who trusted her, and left him to rot under a tree.

The 31-year-old woman pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact in respect of the killing of Brent Andrew Bacon and was jailed for two years and three months when she appeared in the High Court at Dunedin this week.

"Quite remarkably", Justice Gerald Nation said, Mr Bacon’s sister refused to pile her scorn and grief at the feet of the offender.

Despite her unceasing trauma and that of the entire family, Lia Bezzett asked the court not to send Dawson to prison.

"I believe that as a society we need to invest in you and punishment won’t fix this," she said.

"In my opinion, one that may not be shared by the family, I don’t believe a prison sentence would produce the best outcome."

Mr Bacon, a father of three, would be remembered for his loyalty and generosity, Ms Bezzett said.

Though they were traits which helped him in life, "they also clouded his ability to make safe judgements of others, including friends and situations".

It is alleged the victim was killed on the evening of February 4. Details of the aftermath can now be revealed for the first time.

While Dawson played no role in his death, she put Mr Bacon’s body in a sleeping bag, loaded him into the back of his own Toyota and travelled to a secluded area 30km north of Dunedin where he was dumped under a tree.

She continued on to Ashburton where she twice tried to use the victim’s eftpos card in the early hours of February 5.

Both transactions were rejected because of an incorrect PIN was tried.

When she reached Picton there was another failed attempt to withdraw cash, the court heard. The vehicle was then sold to the owner of a backpackers for $250.

Dawson reached the North Island by ferry and drove on to Rotorua.

In the interim, the woman sent messages to Mr Bacon to distance herself from the crimes, aware that he was dead.

The victim’s body was found by a member of the public on February 18 and Dawson was arrested two days later.

He was in such an advanced state of decomposition he had to be identified by forensic testing.

Because of that, he could not be flown home to Tauranga and instead had to be cremated in a "makeshift" ceremony in Christchurch.

"There is something eerily wrong with knowing your brother’s body is being burned without his loved ones around him," Ms Bezzett said.

She told the court she drove past her brother’s former home twice a day and was forced to recall his undignified disposal every time she went north to the family holiday spot.

"I’m reminded of Brent’s final roadie, taking his bludgeoned body, stuffed in a sleeping bag, rolling around in the back of a van — his van," she said.

Justice Nation stressed the "callous" nature of Dawson’s acts, which had traumatised the victim’s family and deprived police of obtaining key evidence.

He said there was still uncertainty over her exact role in the incident, which would also likely haunt Mr Bacon’s loved ones.

Defence counsel John Westgate told the court Dawson was using methamphetamine every day at the time of the offending.

The judge acknowledged "a sad background of abuse, drug addiction and mental illness".

As a tearful Dawson was led to the cells, she mouthed to Mr Bacon’s family: "I’m so sorry."

rob.kidd@odt.co.nz

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