30 Sep 2011

Elderly man's family offer forgivenesss to teen killers

11:17 pm on 30 September 2011

The family of a Wellington man brutally killed by three teenagers in Hamilton have spoken of forgiveness at the sentencing.

The body of 74-year-old Donald Stewart was found in a central city street after he was badly beaten early one morning in June last year and left to die.

At the Hamilton High Court on Friday, 15-year-old Connor Rewha-Te Wara, who was 14 when he killed Mr Stewart, was sentenced to life with a minimum non-parole period of 11 years.

Ben Purua, 16, and 18-year-old William Izett pleaded guilty to manslaughter and have been imprisoned for 5½ years and four years, respectively. Both must serve at least half their sentence.

The three set upon Mr Stewart as he returned to his car, with Rewha-Te Wara delivering fatal blows to his head and upper body before dragging him into an alleyway.

Rewha-Te Wara's lawyer Mike Robb read part of an apology his client gave to the Stewart family.

"Dear Donald Stewart's family, I'm writing this letter from my heart and soul to ask for forgiveness and to apologise for what I have done. I'm really sorry that you have to mourn for your father, uncle, husband, best friend, brother.

"It wasn't my intention to bring death among your family. I didn't mean to act in such a negative way."

Three family members read victim impact statements in court including his brother, Gordon Stewart.

"My hope and prayer is that Connor, Ben and William involved in this crime will be able to reflect on their actions deeply and take stock of their lives and the pathway they've been on and get all the help that's available to turn their lives around."

Outside court, Gordon Stewart said the family had been brought up to be merciful and kind, but not to deny that justice was needed. However, he said the family does not want revenge.