23 Oct 2013

Brutal killing brings 17-year jail term

4:18 pm on 23 October 2013

A man who admitted murdering his former partner in what a judge described as a planned and particularly brutal killing will spend at least 17 years in jail.

Ernest Smith, 39, was sentenced in the High Court in Wellington on Wednesday for the murder of Amanda Taufale in November last year.

Smith hid in the roof of Ms Taufale's home until she and her children were asleep, then crept out and stabbed her 17 times, before slashing her throat and leaving her to bleed to death. Her body was found the following day by her 15-year-old son.

Justice Ron Young said the 17-year minimum sentence was needed to reflect Smith's callousness and careful planning of the killing and his attempts afterwards to conceal what he had done.

The judge said Smith's claim he had gone to Ms Taufale's home intending to commit suicide did not match the facts of the case.

Outside court, Amanda Taufale's uncle Ralph Jorgensen said the family believes the minimum sentence is appropriate.

He says although the family cannot forget what happened, the sentencing means they can now put "this very dark period" behind them and get their lives back together.

Mr Jorgensen said the family is thankful for the huge amount of support they have received and will continue to care for Ms Taufale's children.