The woman set a bottle of nail polish remover on fire when she caught her ex in bed with her best friend. Photo / 123rf
A heartbroken woman struggling to accept the end of her relationship set fire to her former boyfriend’s carpet when she found him in bed with her best friend.
Emma Louise Kiwara, of the Whangārei suburb of Morningside, was expected to go to trial this week charged with assault with intent to injure, assault of a person with a blunt instrument, two breaches of protection order, burglary, threatening behaviour and wilfully setting fire to property after an emotional incident that unfolded on December 19, 2021.
On the day of the trial, negotiations between her lawyer, Arthur Fairley, and the Crown resulted in the arson charge being dropped and Kiwara pleading guilty to the remaining five charges.
During sentencing at the Whangārei District Court on Thursday, the history of Kiwara’s relationship with her ex, which was embroiled in methamphetamine addiction and betrayal, was laid bare.
Kiwara was married with children when she began a new job where Fairley said “she fell into the arms of the victim” and eventually left her husband for the man, who was her boss.
For three years, the pair were in a relationship which the Crown said ended by November 2021 when a protection order was served on Kiwara.
However, Kiwara claimed the relationship continued until at least February 2022.
About 4am on December 19, 2021, Kiwara showed up at the victim’s house after being told 10 hours earlier to stay away. When she arrived the door was shut.
She forced her way into the property and walked into his bedroom where she found him in bed with her best friend of 10 years.
Enraged, she set a bottle of nail polish remover on fire and then went to the kitchen, grabbed a crowbar and hit the victim.
After leaving the property, she sent several intimidating texts to him.
A lawyer for the Crown, Ally Tupuola, said Kiwara turned up uninvited to intimidate the victim and show him what she was capable of.
“He had a protection order that was meant to protect him and she acted in the way she did that night. If it had not been for the victim putting out the fire, it could have been a lot worse,” Tupuola said.
Fairley presented text messages between the pair proving they had been in a sexual relationship through to January and said, “There’s more here than meets the eye”.
Fairley argued the victim was the aggressor and played a video captured by Kiwara of him at her front door with a crowbar yelling, “Stay out of my life you useless b***,” and said he had a location tracker on her phone.
“This woman’s heart is breaking, she should not have done it but it wasn’t one-sided by any manner of meaning . . . she doesn’t have a background of drugs or violence, she fell into this world and she’s determined to get out of it,” Fairley said.
Judge John McDonald accepted the relationship did not end when the Crown said it ended and if Kiwara wanted to burn down the house, she could have easily done it from the outside.
“You have now moved away from Whangārei, away from this man, probably one of the better decisions of your life,” Judge McDonald said.
Kiwara was sentenced to 250 hours of community work and 12 months of supervision.
Shannon Pitman is a Whangārei based reporter for Open Justice covering courts in the Te Tai Tokerau region. She is of Ngāpuhi/Ngātiwai/Ngāti Pūkenga descent and has worked freelance in digital media for the past five years. She joined NZME in 2023.