Amelia Wade is a court reporter for the New Zealand Herald

Man who beat Troy Wright to death sent to prison for life

Troy Wright was beaten to death in his home. Photo / File
Troy Wright was beaten to death in his home. Photo / File

An Auckland man who stomped and kicked his friend to death has been sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of 13 years.

In August, Tione Tione, 40, was found guilty by a jury of murdering Troy Wright, 43, whose body was found in a pool of blood at his bedroom in Conifer Grove, South Auckland, last year.

Wright died from a severe beating. He had 59 impact injuries to his body, brain bleeding, a broken sternum and shoe treadmarks on his body.

He was so badly beaten his own mother could not identify him.

The Auckland High Court heard during sentencing this morning how Tione befriended Wright, who lived alone in a one-bedroom unit on a health benefit because he suffered from schizophrenia. He was described as a kind and caring person.

Tione, who lived in a caravan park, wanted to move in with Wright but when he heard it had not been approved, he went drinking with his brother on September 23.

Justice Rebecca Edwards said later that night, Tione left the house "angry and drunk" and went to Wright's home.

Tione said Wright swung a punch and so hit back in self defence.

Justice Edwards said Tione sustained no injuries and so that suggested the attack was a "completely one-sided affair".

In his submissions, defence lawyer Shane Cassidy said Tione suffered from "severe" mental illness, namely schizophrenia, further complicated by drug and alcohol abuse issues.

On the day of the murder, Tione heard voices and was in a "confused state of mind" - it was only when he saw Wright's blood after the beating that he was "brought to his senses", Cassidy told the court.

Because of his mental state, Tione didn't know if his friend was still alive when he called an ambulance.

Cassidy said Tione didn't intend to kill Wright and regrets the murder.

In her victim impact statement, read aloud in court, Wright's mother, Mary, detailed the ordeal of losing her son in such a violent way and said her life will never be the same again.

At the funeral home, she had to wipe the "tears of blood" from her son's eyes as he lay in his casket.

"And each time I did this, more would flow."

Throughout the court process, she and her whanau had to relive the ordeal over and over again but they wanted to be at every one of Tione's appearances to show him Wright had a family who loved him.

"You, the offender, have taken my son's life but I'll make sure you don't take mine. That's what keeps me going every day," Wright's mother told the court.

Justice Edwards said the aggravating factors were the "brutal and callous nature of the assault", Wright's vulnerability and the fact the attack took place in his bedroom, a place he should have felt safe.

She accepted Tione's mental health issues would mean he'd have a harder time in prison and gave him a small discount for that.

Tione was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of 13 years.

After she read the sentence, Wright's family clapped while Tione muttered "that's crazy".

- NZ Herald

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