Updated: Tauranga man's killers get life

By Dana Kinita

CLOSURE: Melani Kimura (left), daughter of murdered businessman Gary Kimura with her aunt Polly Kimura outside the Rotorua court. PHOTO/ANDREW WARNER 181013AW04BOP
CLOSURE: Melani Kimura (left), daughter of murdered businessman Gary Kimura with her aunt Polly Kimura outside the Rotorua court. PHOTO/ANDREW WARNER 181013AW04BOP

A prisoner serving life for a murder has been sentenced for the manslaughter of a Tauranga businessman.

Joseph Russell Rewiri, 45, aka Jody Rutledge, was serving a life sentence for the 2006 murder of Peter Franklyn when he orchestrated from behind bars the assault that killed Gary Kimura at his Tauranga home in 2011.

Rewiri enlisted Witeri Neketai, 36, who was charged with Kimura's murder, to collect a $31,000 drug debt.

In the High Court at Rotorua yesterday Justice Timothy Brewer sentenced Neketai to life imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of 13 years while Rewiri received nine years' prison to be served concurrently with his existing life sentence.

On October 5, 2011, Neketai and two associates knocked on Kimura's door and confronted him on the driveway.

According to the police summary of facts, 44-year-old Mr Kimura was hit so hard the 109kg man fell backwards, striking his head on a concrete driveway before he was kicked as he laid on the ground.

He died at Waikato Hospital five weeks later.

Family and friends of Mr Kimura cried in the public gallery during the sentencing. A victim impact statement was read out in court by his wife Rosina who described losing her husband as like "losing her soul".

"I will never forget the day our world was shattered. When I looked out the window and saw my husband lying in a pool of blood," she said.

"When my husband died, my whole soul had been ripped out, just a couple of hours before [he was hurt] he picked up our baby from kindergarten, laughed and played with her before putting her to bed and then he was fighting for his life.

"When Gary passed, it really felt like I died with him. He was my best mate, it's been the worst pain I had ever experienced."

Mrs Kimura said it had been difficult coping on her own especially when six months after his death she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

His father Manaia also spoke of how proud he was to be his dad and the anger he still felt that his son was ripped away from his wife and children. A waiata [song] was sung after his speech.

Outside court, Mr Kimura's sister Polly and daughter Melani said they were glad they could start finding some closure.

"They should have got longer," Melani said.

"Thirteen years is not enough, they should be in the ground, where my Dad is now."

Polly said they solely blamed the individuals involved, not their families.

"Just because they were sent to prison doesn't bring Gary back. They still get to see their family and friends, they're still walking around," she said.

"We're just now focusing on his unveiling next month so we are glad this is over as the date kept getting put off because of the sentencing."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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