Roman Skorek's murderer 'forever scarred'

By Katie Holland -
Rawiri James Samuel. Photo / Ben Fraser
Rawiri James Samuel. Photo / Ben Fraser

A Rotorua man jailed for life for the brutal murder of Polish tourist Roman Skorek has been forever scarred by the killing, a court has heard.

Rawiri James Samuel, 22, was sentenced in the High Court at Rotorua yesterday to life imprisonment, with a minimum non-parole period of 12 years for the murder of 64-year-old Mr Skorek in Kuirau Park on January 29 this year.

Samuel pleaded guilty in March. However, his alleged co-offenders Simon Meka Herewini, 20, William Karauna Edwards, 15, and Leslie McKay Glen, 14, have all pleaded not guilty to murder and will stand trial on February 11.

When sentencing Samuel, Justice Mary Peters said according to the police summary of facts Samuel and others met Mr Skorek at the park's hot pools and drank with him. At one point, Samuel thought Mr Skorek was making sexual advances towards one of the people he was with and assaulted him, punching him in the face and head. When Mr Skorek fell to the ground Samuel kicked him and jumped on his chest.

Samuel and associates then left, with Samuel taking a knife with a five-inch blade and money from Mr Skorek's bag.

He went back to Mr Skorek, who was unconscious and making a snoring sound. Samuel stabbed him once in the face and once in the upper chest. Mr Skorek also received another stab wound to the chest, a six-inch open wound on his throat and suffered a fractured skull.

Rotorua Crown prosecutor Amanda Gordon said the murder was committed in an attempt to avoid detection for the earlier assault and was aggravated by the fact Mr Skorek was unconscious and vulnerable at the time.

Samuel's lawyer Martin Hine said his client had asked him to express his remorse for his involvement in the "tragedy''.

"He views it very much as a tragedy. It has scarred his soul and will do so for the rest of his life. He will do everything in his power to try and put right in any practical way what he has been embroiled in as a central figure.

"His family has been with him and supported him and they also express deep remorse for what has happened."

Justice Peters said until recently Samuel denied he stabbed Mr Skorek, but had now acknowledged he stabbed the man twice.

She said when he committed the murder Samuel was drunk and was acting to protect his friend from Mr Skorek's perceived sexual advances.

"Those advances are irrelevant. They could not have in any way warranted that sort of reaction."

Justice Peters said at the time of the pre-sentence report Samuel was on medication for schizophrenia, depression and high blood pressure. She said he had attempted suicide in 2008 and at Christmas 2011.

In reaching the sentence, which she described as the "minimum that was open to her" she took into account his remorse and early guilty plea.

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