Matthew Backhouse

Matthew Backhouse is an APNZ news reporter based in Wellington.

Killer jailed 15 years for strangling in front of victim's daughter

Photo / File
Photo / File

A man who strangled his partner in the back of a van near Nelson while her 5-year-old daughter sat in the front seat has been sentenced to at least 15 years in prison.

Michael William Beca, 44, believed his partner had been giving information about him to gangs and, fearing he would be killed, hatched a plan to murder her.

He thought up different methods of killing Lisa Maree Corbett, 37, and bought equipment including cable ties, rope, a large syringe, and crushed-up codeine tablets.

In the end he decided to strangle Ms Corbett and drove the woman and her daughter out to remote bush in the Spooners Range on March 12 last year.

He persuaded Ms Corbett to let him tie her up, to feign a kidnapping, and secured her ankles and wrists behind her back.

Beca then strangled her in the back of the van while her young daughter, who apparently could not see what he was doing, sat in the front seat.

He then drove to the Nelson police station, with Ms Corbett's body still in the back of the van, and admitted killing her.

In the Hight Court at Nelson today, Justice David Collins sentenced Beca to life imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of 15 years.

Beca had earlier pleaded guilty to a charge of murdering Ms Corbett.

Justice Collins said the murder involved calculated and very deliberate planning, including alternative methods of killing her, the purchase of items to do so, and the "elaborate ruse" of a feigned kidnapping.

The murder also involved a high degree of callousness.

"The murder took place in close proximity to Ms Corbett's 5-year-old daughter who, at all times was in the van while you murdered her mother.

"Although Ms Corbett's daughter was apparently unable to see your actions, she would have been able to hear the sounds that would inevitably have occurred in the back of the van."

Justice Collins noted Beca had previous convictions for dishonesty, driving offences, possession of an offensive weapon, threatening to kill or do grievous bodily harm and assaulting a female.

A clinical psychologist had concluded he was not psychotic, but did appear to suffer anxiety disorders and possibly pathological personality disorders.

Justice Collins noted a "particularly disturbing" pre-sentencing report that found Beca had little insight into his offending and was at high risk of reoffending.

The murder had a "horrendous impact" on Ms Corbett's family and Justice Collins said he hoped Beca would reflect on that for the rest of his life.

- APNZ

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