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Auckland hammer killer jailed 12 years

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 1/08/2016

A man who beat a sleeping teen to death with a hammer before getting into bed with the body will spend at least 12 years in jail.

Jiaxin "Max" Tu, 36, was on Tuesday handed a life sentence with no parole for at least 12 years for the murder of 19-year-old Shane Hawe-Wilson at his Panmure home in July 2015.

During the trial the court heard Tu had been obsessed with Mr Hawe-Wilson's girlfriend since 2010, when she was 12, trying to hire a "hitman" to kill one of her previous boyfriends and offering to pay Mr Hawe-Wilson $5000 to leave her.

On July 1 Tu crept into the bedroom where Mr Hawe-Wilson and his girlfriend were sleeping and struck the man several times on the head with a hammer, killing him instantly, the Crown said.

The girl slept for several hours unaware until Tu got into bed and tried to take off her pants, whereupon she woke up screaming and discovered her dead partner.

Holding back tears, Mr Hawe-Wilson's mother, Paula Hawe, angrily lashed out at Tu at his sentencing in the High Court at Auckland on Tuesday.

"You're disgusting. You should just rot. Scum," she said after reading a statement.

"To lose my child in this way is bad enough, but for someone to do the terrible act that was done to my lovely son, just gives me nightmares."

Although Tu's lawyers argued he was insane at the time, saying he suffered from schizoaffective disorder and was delusional - including claiming he was Jesus - a jury in June found him guilty.

Justice Christian Whata said he believed Tu's mental illness meant he had genuinely perceived Mr Hawe-Wilson as a threat at the time - after an argument between the two over the $5000 deal - and lacked insight into what he had done.

"While you do not meet the threshold for insanity, the cause of your offending is closely linked to your mental illness," he said.

But he said the killing was premeditated, the sleeping victim was vulnerable, and the circumstances "chilling".

Prosecutor Kirsten Lummis said while mental illness was part of the issue, Tu had used methamphetamine and cannabis, which had undermined the support he was receiving.

But defence lawyer Peter Tomlinson said there was no evidence Tu had used meth before the attack.

"He's someone who needs care," he said. "If not for that mental illness the offence would never have happened."

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