Six men sentenced over Auckland car boot death

6:26 pm on 18 September 2017

The man who at one time called Jindarat Prutsiriporn 'Mum' was today jailed for orchestrating the kidnapping that left her dead.

Jindarat Prutsiriporn

Jindarat Prutsiriporn. Photo: NZ Police

Seng Lek Liev was one of five men sentenced today for his part in the fatal kidnapping, which ended with Ms Prutsiriporn breaking her way out of a car boot and dying of fatal head injuries after she hit the ground.

Seng Lek Liev had been close with 50-year-old Jindarat Prutsiriporn. The pair were even arrested together for possession of methamphetamine.

Justice Palmer said it was at that point their relationship broke down.

"Abusive, suspicious text messages between them and others, involving allegations of theft and blackmail, illustrate that graphically."

Liev then set about planning her kidnapping and asked his friends Sodarith Sao and Apichart Korhomklang for help. They were sentenced today to nine years and eight months and 10 years and eight months respectively.

Liev also sought the services of Head Hunters gang associates, known as the Ghost Unit.

After a botched attempt at kidnapping Ms Prutsiriporn from her Waterview property in February, the Ghost Unit - at least 10 strong - returned the following month.

This time, Ms Prutsiriporn was lured from her home on the pretence of a drug deal but the Ghost Unit were waiting outside. Justice Palmer said two members of the group threatened to shoot her and harm her family before bundling her into a car.

"We don't know exactly how Ms Prutsiriporn spent the next 19 hours. We do not know if she was subjected to violence but she must have been in dire fear of her life."

Ms Prutsiriporn was bundled into the boot of a car and moved around, while two other members of the Ghost Unit drove into town with her eftpos card to clean out her account.

"By approximately 5am on the first of March, 2016, Mr Vaifale and Mr Haurua had custody of Ms Prutsiriporn. Mr Haurua sent some offensively callous texts about having done 'a snatch' and having 'an idiot' in the boot."

She was held without food or water before Sao was left in charge. About three hours later Sao heard banging noises coming from the boot and drove off to muffle the sounds.

"In the car boot, Ms Prutsiriporn had found a knife which she stuck down her trousers. She also found a chef's steel. We don't know exactly what she did but she did something to try to escape from the boot because of the fear of violence the offenders put in her."

As Sao's car approached traffic lights on Huia Rd in Papatoetoe, the boot flew open.

"The boot came open and Ms Prutsiriporn, still bound, came out of it. Her head hit the road with a crunch, fracturing her skull. The chef's steel was by her hand."

She died two days later in hospital.

Justice Palmer said some of the accused had down-played their involvement and failed to see how serious their crimes were.

"But other New Zealanders will see this as drug dealers contracting with a gang to kidnap a small middle-aged woman under threat to her and her family and keeping her in conditions that caused her such fear that she attempted to escape, bound, from the boot of a moving car. This is completely unacceptable."

The judge said because of that, he would impose a 50 percent minimum non-parole period.

Ghost Unit member Luigi Havea was sentenced to 10 years and three months in prison, Tafito Vaifale was sentenced to seven years and 10 months, and Joseph Haurua was sentenced to six years and-a-half years.

Outside court, Detective Senior Sergeant Shaun Vickers said as well as the six sentenced today, five others involved pleaded guilty and were sentenced before trial.

"This horrific case shows us exactly what the Head Hunters motorcycle gang stand for and the damage they are doing to our communities.

"We know they are distributing large amounts or large [quantities] of drugs through our communities and the ripple effect that this has is dangerous and sometimes deadly."

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