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16 years for man who killed step daughter

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 7/11/2016 Cassie Devoy

The man who murdered a girl who'd been in his care for eight years has been sentenced to life in prison with a minimum of 16 years in the Wellington High Court on Tuesday.

Paul Keith Skipper, 40, fatally stabbed Te Awhiahua Toko, 17, who he refers to as his stepdaughter, in the Lower Hutt suburb of Naenae on April 17.

Known as Awhi, she was stabbed in the neck and chest three times and died two days later in hospital.

The attack happened at Skipper's home which he shared with Ms Toko, after he became agitated that she was planning to move in with her boyfriend's family.

Six victim impact statements were read at the sentencing by Ms Toko's mother, sister, best friend, and boyfriend's parents.

Ms Toko's boyfriend and his parents were present during the attack, and her boyfriend held her head and spoke to her while they waited for help to arrive.

Skipper was allowed to read his own letter to the court, where he said he had no explanation for his actions.

Judge Karen Clark said this had been considered in her sentencing, and was a cause for concern.

There was also concern as he had acted violently towards Ms Toko twice in the years leading up to her death, and on both those occasions only stopped when family members stepped in.

Judge Clark said Skipper only stopped his fatal attack on Ms Toko when his father restrained him, removing the knife.

Skipper had become angry when Ms Toko came to collect her belongings, accompanied by her boyfriend and his parents, and as the three of them took some things to the car, locked them out and isolated her.

That's when he attacked her with a butchers knife.

In the days leading up to the attack, she had expressed that she felt uncomfortable and unsafe around Skipper.

Judge Clark said Skipper had breached Ms Toko's trust, and that of their whanau.

"[Skipper] was meant to look after her, but instead he created an environment of fear."

In his letter, Skipper apologised to Ms Toko's family and friends, to which his lawyer, Quentin Duff, warned the court that it was brief.

"I've committed a heinous act ... I have taken the life of my step daughter ... and I am so sorry ... I've not got an answer ... She did not deserve what I did ...I have hurt you all and I'm ever so sorry."

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