The Napier teenager who murdered a man found in a roadside ditch last year has been jailed for life.

Shaun Karauria, 17, appeared in the High Court at Napier for sentencing this morning after pleading guilty to aggravated robbery and murder.

He murdered Indian national Sandeep Dhiman, 30, at Matahorua Rd near Tutira on December 18 last year.

His alleged co-offender, a second female teenager also aged 17, was also charged with murder and aggravated robbery in December last year.

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She cannot be named due to continued name suppression.

This morning Crown prosecutor Steve Manning submitted a minimum jail period of 15 years was appropriate for Karauria considering the "extensive brutality" of the case.

The court heard Karauria had effectively hatched a plan with an alleged co-offender over a period of days to steal a car and then befriended Dhiman to set him up.

Dhiman drove them to a remote location before getting out of the car and, when he and Karauria were alone, the defendant stabbed him nine times.

One of the strikes would prove fatal, but not at the time, so Dhiman managed to stagger to the roadside where he collapsed.

Karauria then stomped on the man's head to make sure he was dead before he got back in the car.

The court heard Dhiman moved as the car was being driven away, so Karauria returned and continued the attack.

The 30-year-old's body would be found in the roadside ditch 12 hours later by a passing truck driver, who could see the man from his heightened vantage point.

Justice France began his sentencing by noting he had read three heartfelt victim impact statements from Dhiman's family who had no forgiveness and only anger for what the teenager had done.

"I think anyone hearing these facts will be struggling to believe them," he said.

"Days in court like today are truly days of dismay. Dismay at the loss of life, dismay that a 17-year-old amongst us has done it and that a 17-year-old will be sentenced to life imprisonment."

Justice France told the defendant he was too young; too young to be living the life he had been and too young to carry out such a horrific act.

The court heard Karauria, born and raised in Hawke's Bay, lost his father when he was 11-years-old and had conflict with his mother's new partner.

He had lived with various family members, spending time in Wairoa and Taranaki, and left school early with no qualifications.

This morning his lawyer Eric Forster said his client was remorseful.

He accepted that there was a serious degree of violence in the case but submitted Karauria had acted spontaneously in his youth.

He said the teenager had taken himself to the police station, along with the clothes he had been wearing, the day after the murder and said a minimum jail period of 12 years would be appropriate.

Justice France said the teenager had mental health issues, with bouts of depression and several suicide attempts, and issues with alcohol.

However the reports failed to explain why he was responsible for such a callous murder, he said.

The Judge said a courtroom was not the place to answer such questions but added it was important that society keep searching for the answer as a jail term would do little to comfort the community in which the murder took place in.

Karauria's mother and aunty sat quietly, one of the woman crying, in the public gallery during the sentencing while Dhiman's family viewed the proceedings via AVL link from Australia.

Justice France sentenced Karauria to life imprisonment with a minimum non parole period of 12 years.

Karauria was also sentenced to three years' imprisonment for the aggravated robbery charge, to be served concurrently.