Murder accused ran into party with gun, hammer - police

By Andrew Koubaridis

Two men charged with the murder of 14-year-old John Hapeta allegedly armed themselves with a revolver-style pistol and a claw hammer when they went to his house looking for drugs and cash.

Details of the August 12 incident emerged in the Manukau District Court yesterday when two men, aged 23 and 22, and a 15-year-old appeared before Judge David Harvey.

The men can be named by newspapers, TV and radio but not online following an unusual suppression order by Judge Harvey. The men are named and photographed in today's print edition of the Herald.

John Hapeta was celebrating his friend's 15th birthday at his home in Justamere Place, Weymouth, when the attack occurred.

The two men were charged with murdering John, threatening to kill, assault with intent to rob and using a pistol to commit a crime.

The 15-year-old, who cannot be named because of his age, appeared in the Manukau Youth Court. He is charged alongside the two men with using a pistol to commit a crime and assaulting John with intent to rob him.

The young men stood silently during their brief appearance with their arms either folded or behind their backs while Judge Harvey discussed media applications to film and photograph them.

All three were remanded in custody until their next court appearance on Friday.

Police allege the three went to John's home on August 12 with the intention of robbing what they thought was a "tinnie" house.

The draft police summary of facts said the two men pulled black bandannas over their faces and walked up to the house, confronted a man and allegedly shouted, "Where's the drugs, where's the drugs?"

Hearing a noise, John's parents came out of the house, only to have one of the men point the pistol at them and order them back inside.

According to the summary, the other man grabbed John, forcing him to the ground, and shouted: "Where are the tinnies, where are the tinnies?" He then allegedly struck him with the hammer, causing a large cut on his forehead, before hitting him again on the back of the head. The force of the blow fractured his skull and caused a deep depression 15mm deep in the shape of the hammer head in his brain.

There was tight security at court as the families of John and the defendants filled the public gallery.

Outside the court, Hapeta family spokesman Aaron Hapeta said there was relief that arrests had been made. The family were still grieving the loss of a loved son who had been taken from them at such a young age.

"He was loved by his parents and was well liked. We would just prefer not to be talking about him in past tense and wish he was still with us."

- NZ Herald

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