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The parents of Scottish-born Allison McPhee, whose body was found in her Wellington City Council bedsit in Newtown Park six days after a vicious beating in June last year, say they will never forgive her killer.
Victim impact statements from 42-year-old Ms McPhee's family were read out in the High Court at Wellington this morning, where John Hone Haerewa was sentenced to life imprisonment for her murder. He showed no emotion.
The transient street dweller will not be eligible for parole for 17 years, by which time he will be aged 70.
Justice Simon France said the killing was of "high brutality.''
Haerewa and Ms McPhee were friends "and probably more than that.''
The on-off couple were together in her small flat on the night of June 22, 2010, when "for whatever reason'' Haerewa bashed her to death with the leg of a wooden stool.
Medical evidence showed Ms McPhee could have died either from the blows to her head or her body.
"It must have been a prolonged and sustained beating,'' said Justice France.
Injuries to the victim's back, arms, shoulders and hands showed she had tried "but failed'' to protect her head which received at least 14 blows.
Ms McPhee tried to dial 111 on her mobile phone for help but was stopped.
The telephone from which the aborted call was made was found later in the pocket of Haerewa's bloodstained track pants.
He had taken steps to delay the discovery of the body and made efforts to direct blame elsewhere, the judge said.
A note in Haerewa's handwriting was left on the front door saying: "Gone to Featherston with Hone. Back Tuesday.''
He also wrote "Die you f..... nark'' in ballpoint pen over splattered blood on the passage wall above where Ms McPhee's body lay just inside the front entrance to her flat.
He then locked the door from inside and went out the back window.
Justice France said intoxication was not an excuse for what Haerewa - well known for his alcohol and solvent abuse - had done.
"You are plainly used to functioning while intoxicated.''
A resident in the flat above heard Haerewa yelling that he was going to kill Ms McPhee, the judge said.
The lies the now convicted murderer told after the killing were "purposeful.''
Having seen the police video interview twice, Justice France said he was left "quite sceptical'' over Haerewa's claims that he had no memory of what had happened. It was "an easy claim'' used to distance himself from his actions.
The court heard it was not the first time the prisoner had beaten women in a domestic context.
He was jailed for 28 months in 2006 and for two years in 1996 for assaulting women.
"You have shown yourself to be a danger to society.''
Haerewa had demonstrated no remorse and had declined to participate in a pre-sentence report.
In a victim impact statement, the family said he had committed "the greatest crime of all,'' taking Ian and Margaret McPhee's firstborn child, sister to their second daughter, mother of two sons, and an aunt.
"My heart aches. My life has changed forever,'' said sister Julie, distraught that Allison had died brutally and alone - "and no-one came to help.''
In evidence presented during the three week trial last month, witnesses said they heard Haerewa asking Allison McPhee if she would look after him and claiming to be her protector.
"Allison was always a soft touch for a hardluck story,'' her sister said.
Margaret McPhee said she could not imagine what the last hours of her elder daughter's life must have been like.
"For that, Hone,you must pay. I hope you never get the chance to hurt anyone again.''
She added: Allison was a special person. The Ross clan doesn't forgive. You will never be at peace.''
Outside the court, a weeping Mrs McPhee said she hoped Haerewa never got out of prison.
"You take a life, you get life.''