23 Feb 2016

Wilkie-Morris jailed for role in murder case

1:43 pm on 23 February 2016

A man who admitted beating Lower Hutt man Matthew Stevens with a hammer before he was fatally stabbed has been jailed.

Darrin Wilkie-Morris at the High Court in Wellington, 23 February 2016.

Darrin Wilkie-Morris at the High Court in Wellington today. Photo: RNZ / Maja Burry

Darrin Wilkie-Morris was sentenced at the High Court in Wellington today to five years and one month jail for injuring with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

A concurrent sentence of two-and-a-half years was imposed on a charge of being an accessory after the fact to the murder of Mr Stevens.

In November 2014, Wilkie-Morris's partner Kelly Crook lured Mr Stevens to a house in Lower Hutt, where he was ambushed by Wilkie-Morris and another man, Stuart Wilton.

Murder victim Matthew Stevens

Matthew Stevens Photo: NZ Police

Before visiting the house, Matthew Stevens had asked Ms Crook if her partner was home. She told him Wilkie-Morris was out of town.

Shortly after Mr Stevens arrived, Wilkie-Morris and Wilton returned and confronted him.

Wilkie-Morris hit him on the head and right knee with a hammer, before Wilton lunged at him with a knife fatally stabbing him twice in the chest and once in the lower back.

Wilkie-Morris and Crook then drove his body to the summit of Paekakariki Hill Road near Wellington and dropped it over a cliff.

Wilton followed in Mr Stevens' car and drove that over the cliff as well in an attempt to make the death appear accidental.

The three then returned to the house and continued cleaning up the murder scene.

Justice Clifford said statements from Matthew Stevens' parents, sister and a cousin speak of the enormous sadness and trauma they have suffered from his violent and pointless death and the callous way his body was dealt with.

He said a probation report showed Wilkie-Morris had little, if any remorse for his actions.

"I hope over time you will think of what happened that day and show some human remorse and understanding for the victims of your actions. I know you haven't had an easy life, but these actions are very, very sad indeed."

The judge said there were several aggravating factors to the offending, including its premeditation, the use of a hammer on Mr Stevens' head, and Wilkie-Morris's significant involvement in disposing of the body and cleaning up the murder scene.

He said Wilkie-Morris had a history of previous violent offending, including aggravated robbery, wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and kidnapping.

Kelly Crook was sentenced last week to 3 years and 4 months in jail for her part in the attack.

Stuart Wilton, who pleaded guilty to murdering Matthew Stevens, was sentenced to life imprisonment in October and ordered to spend at least 11 years behind bars.