Kurt Bayer is a Herald reporter based in Christchurch

Hayden Miles' family thankful after killer jailed

Gavin Gosnell. Photo / Supplied
Gavin Gosnell. Photo / Supplied

The family of murdered Christchurch teen Hayden Miles are thankful his killer will spend at least 18 years behind bars but say "Life should mean life".

Gavin Gosnell was today sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of 18 years for the brutal murder and dismemberment of 15-year-old Hayden.

The 28-year-old sacked his defence counsel in a shock move in the High Court at Christchurch this morning, while pledging his innocence and vowing to appeal against his conviction on the basis he didn't get a fair trial.

"I'm not a murderer and I didn't murder Hayden Miles," he said, while apologising to the Miles family for raising the possibility of putting them through a re-trial.

"It kills me that Hayden's dead. I hate that I'm still hurting youse (sic) when I've already hurt youse enough. I'm ashamed as a father and as a person."

But the Miles family dismissed Gosnell's words, saying they wanted to focus on rebuilding their own shattered lives and remembering the popular schoolboy.

Gosnell was found guilty of murder after a harrowing trial in April which featured grisly dismemberment evidence.

The unemployed drifter admitted killing Hayden after a prolonged assault at a Cashel St flat on August 22, 2011, before cutting him into 12 pieces with a $20 jigsaw and dumping his remains in two city graveyards.

Gosnell denied murderous intent, and asked to be convicted of manslaughter.

Today, there was a packed public gallery, including Hayden's family and friends, as well as some of the jurors from the trial.

It has been 652 days since grieving mum Jacqui Miles last saw her son, and ever since had been "living a nightmare that I can't wake up from".

"I'll never get to see Hayden grow up and become a man. I feel so robbed. My family is forever broken," she told the court in an emotional victim impact statement.

She had been tormented by visions of her son's "gruesome and evil murder", which made her physically ill every day with the thought of how he died, she said.

For the last 18 months, Mrs Miles has been seeing a therapist, suffering panic attacks - as does Hayden's 20-year-old sister Alecia - and battling depression.

Alecia told Gosnell that she didn't want to waste energy on hating him, that he would "always be a nobody, and will be forgotten".

In sentencing, Justice Lester Chisholm said Gosnell was someone who had led a "difficult life", and racked up 60 previous criminal convictions, spending much of the last 14 years in jail.

The judge said the merciless fatal beating amounted to "extreme brutality, repeated over and over", while the dismemberment was "quite beyond belief".

Outside court, mum Jacqui Miles' sister Sandy was relieved at the sentence, but added: "We believe that life should mean life in prison.".


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