Daniel Tai Houia may not have been involved with the fatal and brutal bashing of a Hamilton man but the threat was always there, a judge has found.
The 47-year-old was today jailed for three years and four months for the aggravated robbery of Brent Paul Brown's prized Ford Fairmont from the driveway of his Dinsdale home on August 31, 2016.
Brown was brutally bashed to death by Houia's co-accused, father and son duo Lance Tangiriki Bush, 48, and Lance Arvi Jackson Bush, 28, who admitted charges of murder and manslaughter respectively earlier this month, halfway during a five-week trial in the High Court at Hamilton.
Brown was killed in Bush Snr's plan to steal his $800 Ford Fairmont. Bush Jnr and Houia were also involved in that plan, but the crown accepted that Houia played no part in the beating which saw such serious injuries inflicted a pathologist likened them to a hanging.
But Brown's sister, Tracey Thomas, told Justice Pheroze Jagose in reading her victim impact statement to the court, that Houia knew more about her brother's death but he'd just kept quiet about it.
"The defendant has remained silent despite his knowledge of who did what ... and we know that Brent pleaded for help while he was being beaten."
She was also horrified to learn in the trial that her brother's death - caused by asphyxia - was so severe the pathologist said it was similar to a hanging injury.
"You have no mana and no respect for human life and bring shame on your mother and your tribe ... you're just a gang of thieves. You are a disgrace to Māoridom," she told Houia.
The court heard Bush Snr texted Houia the week before Brown's death, stating he wanted to steal his car.
Bush Snr and Jnr went into Brown's home and found him in the bedroom where they dished out a beating so severe he was left lying, dead, on the end of his bed and his blood remained splattered on the walls around him.
As the beating was being dealt, Houia was outside in the driveway busily trying to get the car started.
"After overcoming its immobility you tied it to a white ute in which you three arrived in to tow it away."
After the bashing, the trio drove away together with Brown's car attached behind.
Justice Jagose told the court Houia was not only a criminal with a lengthy record, and of high risk of harm to others, he was also a dedicated husband and father to 11 children and two stepchildren.
Houia was also the owner of two garden maintenance businesses and came armed with a reference from principal Shane Ngatai of Rhode St School, where five of his children attend.
In deciding his jail term, the judge said it was "implicit in your plan that Brown would be subject to at least threats of violence".
Houia's lawyer Russell Fairbrother described his client as a "discreet offender" in Brown's murder which the crown had accepted.
But members of Brown's family also told Justice Jagose in their impact statements they didn't see Houia as a family man, rather a cold-hearted killer.
Helen Brown was disgusted the trio had taken his life over a car.
"They wanted your car. Just your car."
Bruce Brown described his older brother as a good guy and someone that everyone could trust.
"You went to steal a car and you left having stolen his life. I hope you rot in jail ... I couldn't care less about you."