20 Oct 2008

Sentencing of murder pair deferred

7:40 pm on 20 October 2008

The sentencing for two people involved in the murder of South Otago man Michael Hutchings will now take place on Tuesday, in an unusual move by the presiding judge.

Mr Hutchings, 18, was stabbed to death in January, his body later found in the Clutha River wrapped in a mattress cover and weighed down with steel bars.

The 38-year-old man who admitted murdering the teenager, and the 30-year-old woman who admitted being an accessory after the fact to murder were supposed to have been sentenced on Monday in the High Court at Dunedin.

But Justice Pankhurst said it was the first time in 12 years that he had had to defer sentencing, noting that there were too many questions he needed to reconcile before doing so.

His decision came after a day of exhaustive submissions, including a disputed facts hearing during which several witnesses were called.

Under cross-examination, the woman admitted that she had lied about the circumstances surrounding Mr Hutchings' death many times since her arrest.

The pair have name suppression.