18 Oct 2013

Man who covered up killing jailed

5:49 pm on 18 October 2013

An Auckland man who covered up killing his friend by hiding his body in an abandoned house and assuming his identity has been sentenced to eight years and three months in jail.

James Grant Cooper was found guilty of manslaughter after killing 23-year-old Javed Mills during a fight in 2009.

Justice Allan sentenced Cooper to four years and three months in jail for manslaughter, as well as four years for perverting the course of justice.

The 25-year-old buried Mr Mills in his backyard before exhuming the body and smashing his skull to hide evidence.

Cooper then hid the skeleton in an abandoned house in Mount Wellington, where it was discovered by demolition workers in 2011.

A victim impact statement from Mr Mills' mother said the family are still unable to comprehend the immorality of her son's death and will forever have to deal with the consequences of Cooper's actions.

Outside court, Cooper's lawyer, Mina Wharepouri, said his client thinks the sentence is fair and he aims to better himself in jail.

"It's an opportunity James has to reflect on what he's done and an opportunity for him to better himself as a person and rid himself of some personal demons."

Javed Mills' family hasn't made any comment about the sentence.