Haze Peihopa, 23, was fatally stabbed at Bacio Bar on Whangarei’s Bank St in June 2021. (File photo)
Two brothers have been sentenced after a Whangārei street fight in June 2021 ended with a young man dead and a whānau continuing to grieve.
There were outbursts in court as Justice Timothy Brewer imposed a sentence of 18 years imprisonment with a minimum period of seven years’ and six months to the older brother, 22, who was found guilty of murdering Haze Angelo Peihopa.
The man’s 19-year-old brother was found not guilty of murder, but admitted injuring Peihopa by kicking him after him being stabbed. He was convicted and discharged.
The pair, who cannot be named at the moment, appeared the at the Whangārei High Court on Friday for sentencing in front of Justice Timothy Brewer.
* Man fatally stabbed after street fight on Whangārei’s Bank St, court hears
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* Teenager jointly charged with Whangārei murder after man’s death in June
Justice Brewer acknowledged the whānau and friends of Peihopa, telling them whatever sentence he imposes will never bring him back.
“It is a tragedy he was killed this way.”
The Court of Appeal recently ruled against life imprisonment sentences for three young people as they were manifestly unjust.
Justice Brewer concluded a sentence of life imprisonment would be manifestly unjust in this case.
Back on June 12, 2021 a street fight started in the middle of Bank St at about 11.30pm.
The fight was between two groups – one involving the two brothers and their friends and the other with Peihopa and his friends.
Things calmed down, then the older brother approached Peihopa in a bar, striking him with several swings of the knife.
“The period of your actual confrontation was only three seconds,” Justice Brewer said.
Justice Brewer said this was a reckless murder and the older brother was disinhibited by the use of alcohol and nitric oxide.
Peihopa died in hospital in the early hours of June 13, 2021.
A number of victim impact statements were read to the court on Friday. Peihopa’s partner said he was “so precious and loved” and in the blink of an eye he was taken away.
“My life went from perfect to the worst nightmare,” she said.
Peihopa’s mother said her son was a kind, humble young man. He was a social butterfly who had the greatest sense of humour.
“I am fighting demons you will never understand…it will never take away the pain and emptiness you created,” Peihopa’s father said.
Crown prosecutor Michael Smith submitted the correct sentence for the older brother was life imprisonment. He acknowledged no jail term could replace and reflect the loss of the Peihopa whānau.
The prosecutor was opposed to continued name suppression.
Annabel Maxwell-Scott, appearing on behalf of Steven Lack, for the 22-year-old, submitted a sentence of life imprisonment would be manifestly unjust in this case.
Maxwell-Scott said the man had never denied his part in the “short-lived frenzied” attack.
The 22-year-old was the oldest child in his whānau where he witnessed violence from a young age.
Maxwell-Scott said the man took on a role as a parent to his younger siblings and it was in that context he was protecting his younger brother on that day.
The defence lawyer submitted the cultural report made hard reading and was heartbreaking.
Her client was genuinely remorseful, she said.
Tiffany Buckley, appearing for Ron Mansfield KC, submitted the younger brother should be discharged without conviction and continue to have name suppression.
He was undertaking a building apprenticeship and this was an opportunity to get him out of the justice system.
Justice Brewer declined permanent name suppression, however continued it until midday next Friday if an appeal is to be filed.