Three Christchurch inmates sentenced over fatal bashing of fellow prisoner Benton Parata

Steven Betham, Levi Reuben and Akuhatua Tihi at their High Court trial earlier this year. Photo / Fairfax Pool
Steven Betham, Levi Reuben and Akuhatua Tihi at their High Court trial earlier this year. Photo / Fairfax Pool

Three inmates have been sentenced over the fatal bashing of a fellow prisoner.

Christchurch Men's Prison inmate Akuhatua Tihi, 23, has been given life with a minimum non-parole period of 13 years for the murder of 44-year-old Benton Marni Parata.

Levi Hohepa Reuben and Steven Betham, who were both found guilty of manslaughter, were also jailed.

Read more: Prison murder trial exposes brutal inner workings of New Zealand jails

Reuben, 21, was sentenced to seven years and eight months in prison, while 36-year-old Betham was sentenced to six years.

All three remained stone-faced while being sentenced in the High Court at Christchurch today.

Parata was attacked in his cell and died in hospital five days later.

During the inmates' trial, the court heard details of the brutal inner workings of New Zealand jails.

Parata was "house proud" - a tough stand-alone senior prisoner who held a certain mana. He had no gang-affiliation.

The court heard about the pecking order in the high-security Rawhiti unit. Fighting was commonplace and weapons, including shanks, were sometimes used.

Occasionally, prisoners would wrap socks around their hands as boxing gloves.

In 1995, Parata and his father Dean Parata were charged with the murder of Tony Keith Walsh, 17, and injuring Tristan Lee Tamati at a party in Westport in October 1994.

Benton Parata was found not guilty of the charges relating to Walsh, but guilty of wounding Tamati. He was sentenced to three years in jail, and an additional four years for an assault on a police officer following a burglary in Blenheim.

Since completing that sentence, his life was spent in and out of prison.

Dean Parata was found not guilty of murder, but guilty of the manslaughter of Walsh, for which he was sentenced to 12 years behind bars.

- Newstalk ZB

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