James Ihaka

James Ihaka is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

I didn't get justice, says widow

Robert Murray Wilkinson, 64, died in the intensive care unit of Waikato Hospital.
Robert Murray Wilkinson, 64, died in the intensive care unit of Waikato Hospital.

The widow of expatriate Kiwi Robert Wilkinson who was killed after an altercation at Waihi Beach earlier this year says she is still waiting for justice.

Luise Wilkinson sat through four days of evidence at the trial of her husband's killer, Israel Kaihau, at the High Court in Hamilton.

The 19-year-old stabbed Mr Wilkinson in the left side of his head after he was told to leave a Waihi Beach property.

The 64-year-old died two days later but Kaihau denied it was his intent to kill him.

Yesterday, after nearly three--and-a-half hours of deliberation, a jury of six men and six women found Kaihau not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter.

At the same time some of Mr Wilkinson's supporters could be seen hanging their heads.

Outside court Mrs Wilkinson was shielded by friends and said, "He got justice but I didn't."

Kaihau's family members would not speak with media but his lawyer, Paul Mabey QC, said the jury members had given their unanimous verdict a lot of consideration and decided the Crown could not prove the murder charge.

"In my opinion it was the right verdict and the most important thing, it was the jury's verdict. So yes, Mr Kaihau can probably take the view that justice has been done."

Mr Mabey said his client regretted what he had done.

Israel Kaihau denied it was his intent to kill the victim.
Israel Kaihau denied it was his intent to kill the victim.

"He's killed someone and he wished it didn't happen. He's been through a trial.

"He's going to be sentenced and he's going to jail but he's made it very clear to us that he deeply regrets killing someone who didn't deserve to die."

Earlier Crown prosecutor Ross Douch said Kaihau was an "inherently unreliable" witness who had "lied and lied and lied".

Kaihau had tried to hide evidence that would implicate him in the killing, and a week later he tried to fool a Waihi detective into believing his bogus alibi that he was at home at the time of the incident, Mr Douch told the court.

"In the face of mounting evidence he remained steadfast, becoming even belligerent or indignant, at the proposition that gives you an indication of how far he will go."

Mr Douch said despite Kaihau's argument that he reacted instinctively when he claimed Mr Wilkinson stood on his injured leg, he did not let out a yell in pain. "Isn't that funny that was without a sound ... all Mrs Wilkinson heard was her husband then this terrible bang. There was no yelp, no cursing ... isn't that remarkable that he suffered in silence?"

He said Kaihau had been carrying a knife that "wasn't a toy or innocuous" and his level of intoxication was not so bad that he would be "incapable to realise" that it was not a dangerous weapon.

The knife, which has not been recovered, was believed to have been at least 8.5cm in length and 3.5cm in width at its midpoint.

By targeting Mr Wilkinson's head he could only have had murderous intent.

But Mr Mabey said his client was not on trial for lying to police or hiding evidence and a manslaughter verdict should be returned.

He said the evidence showed Kaihau was in a drunken, happy mood on the evening in question, and there was no suggestion prior to his altercation with Mr Wilkinson that he was aggressive or looking for trouble.

"How does a happy, drunken young boy become a cold-blooded killer because a householder says to him, 'I'm going to report you'?"

Justice Robert Dobson remanded Kaihau in custody to reappear for sentencing on November 29.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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