First victim of Karen Aim's killer too scared to go on street

By Alanah Eriksen, Alanah May Eriksen

Thirteen months after she was viciously attacked with a rock by a boy who went on to murder her friend and workmate, Zara Schofield is still too scared to walk the streets.

Ms Schofield was walking home from a party in Taupo in January 2008 when she was attacked by Jahche Broughton, then aged 14.

The boy hit her repeatedly about the head with a rock, inflicting serious brain injuries. A year on, she still suffers post-traumatic stress disorder.

Twelve days later, Broughton murdered Scottish tourist Karen Aim with a baseball bat as she walked home from a night out.

Broughton, now 15, was yesterday sentenced in the High Court at Rotorua to life in prison for Ms Aim's killing, with a concurrent six years for the attack on Ms Schofield. He now has the dubious distinction of being the youngest person in New Zealand to be jailed for life. It is also one of the longest non-parole periods imposed on a young offender.

But for Ms Schofield, 19, the sentence was too light.

"I don't think it was enough at all, it should have been a lot longer, a harder sentence ... it was shocking to hear the result ... I am angry, yes I hate him."

Trainee chef Ms Schofield and Ms Aim had worked together at a cafe in Taupo for about a month.

"She was nice, she was lovely," Ms Schofield said.

She has met Ms Aim's parents, Brian and Peggy, and said she feels guilty she is still alive while their daughter died.

"The Aims are lovely people and things like this always happen to the good people."

Broughton sat emotionless in the dock as the sentence was handed down, only occasionally glancing up to look at the judge or his lawyer.

Chris Wilkinson-Smith - who took over the case last month when Broughton fired his previous lawyer - said Broughton maintained someone else killed Ms Aim, but had pleaded guilty because he was at the crime scene on the night.

He said Broughton had no recollection of events involving Ms Schofield.

But Justice Graham Lang said there was no DNA to suggest that anyone other than Broughton was responsible for the two attacks. He also spoke of the emotional damage Broughton's attack on Ms Schofield had caused.

"The physical injuries received were bad enough, but the emotional injuries were horrific. She can't touch people, she finds it hard to mix and mingle with people in her peer group.

"Guilt in this case rests in one place and one place alone and that's with you, Mr Broughton."

Justice Lang said Broughton's actions had not only affected the victims and their families but the wider community.

"You have murdered the citizen of another country while she was on holiday. You have created so much damage on such a broad scale."

His 12-and-a-half-year sentence took into account his age and guilty plea.

Crown prosecutor Fletcher Pilditch had asked the judge to consider a sentence of between 13 and 15 years. He said Broughton appeared to have had a "relatively good" upbringing with his grandparents and the attacks were not a result of peer pressure.

Broughton's grandparents, his mother and other whanau refused to speak to reporters outside the court.

- NZ Herald

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