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Bashed, burned, shot, amputated: Men jailed for torture 'like Tarantino movie'

Anna Leask

Anna Leask is a senior crime and justice reporter for the New Zealand Herald

GRAPHIC CONTENT WARNING - THIS STORY CONTAINS DESCRIPTIONS OF VIOLENT CRIME.

Two men have been jailed for their part in a brutal kidnap where the victim was tortured over 12 hours - his pinky finger cut off with secateurs, both feet shot and his naked body burned with a blowtorch while he was tied up and gagged.

His attackers, who believed he had robbed another person of "thousands of dollars", burned his eyes with cigarettes, urinated on him and beat him for hours in a bid to get him to disclose where the money was.

Five men were arrested following the violent attack last November.

Two of them - Henry Enoka Kea and Liam Hourigan - pleaded guilty to a raft of charges and were sentenced in the High Court at Auckland today.

Henry Enoka Kea (left) and Liam Hourigan have been jailed for their part in a brutal attack reminiscent of a Tarantino movie script. Photo / NZ Herald
Henry Enoka Kea (left) and Liam Hourigan have been jailed for their part in a brutal attack reminiscent of a Tarantino movie script. Photo / NZ Herald

Kea and Hourigan were convicted of kidnapping, aggravated robbery, unlawful possession of a pistol, wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, threatening to kill, assault with a blunt weapon and injuring with intent to injure.

The three other men have denied the charges and will stand trial in the High Court at Auckland next year.

Kea and Hourigan appeared before Justice Sarah Katz this morning.

She described the offending as devastating, catastrophic and causing everlasting damage.

It was one of the most violent cases the court has dealt with, short of a murder.

A brutal and prolonged attack - the details of the crime

The Herald earlier revealed the extent of the offending against the victim, whose name has been suppressed.

On November 20, Hourigan contacted the victim on social media and asked to meet him at a New Lynn address.

The victim arrived and Hourigan greeted him and invited him into the house.

The man was physically restrained and held on the ground, his clothing removed and his phone, car keys and wallet - containing $500 in cash - were stolen.

Hourigan fetched a "cut down .22 calibre rifle" fitted with a silencer sound suppressor and pointed it at the victim before he pressed the muzzle to the back of his head.

The victim was hogtied and a T-shirt was shoved into his mouth and tied in place.

He was then punched and kicked repeatedly - and urinated on by one of the men - over a two hour period.

Police charged the men with a raft of alleged offences after the victim escaped. Photo / NZME stock
Police charged the men with a raft of alleged offences after the victim escaped. Photo / NZME stock

Hourigan demanded to know where the "stolen" money was and threatened to burn the victim alive and remove his penis if he did not answer.

The victim was later driven to a property at Whenuapai.

He was forced into the back footwell and was punched and kicked by the group of attackers as they drove.

At Whenuapai the victim was dragged from the car and into a building where he was tied to a chair, his mouth still gagged.

An unknown liquid solution was sprayed into his eyes and he was shot through his right foot with the pistol.

Hourigan then used a gas-fuelled blow torch to burn the man's bare skin - holding the flame directly against his right hand, right arm, back, chest, feet, legs and stomach.

Over the following hours the victim was hit in the head with a metal object and shot through his left foot.

Hourigan then attempted to cut the victim's little finger off his left hand using scissors.

That did not work and a pair of secateurs was sourced.

Hourigan then cut the man's finger off "cleanly", police said.

The man was beaten for several more hours and lit cigarettes were used to burn his eyelids and shoulder.

Eventually the victim was carried back to his car - his eye were taped shut.

After about 30 minutes of driving the victim managed to free his tied hands and climb into the front of the car.

The driver braked heavily and the victim got out of the car and ran into the oncoming traffic.

A motorist stopped and helped him, taking him to hospital.

The victim speaks: These men are nothing but violent criminals

The man subjected to the horrendous attack spoke about his ordeal for the first time, sharing a Victim Impact Statement in court.

Victim advocate Ruth Money read the statement, outlining the "catastrophic" impact the attack has had.

The victim called his attackers "insane" and remembered Hourigan and Kea "laughing at me as they watch me burn and suffer".

"There is no place in prison or hell for people like this," he wrote.

"If it wasn't for me saving my own life… I wouldn't be writing this, I would have been burned alive according to the offenders."

He described the attack as "incredibly violent" and at the hands of "mentally ill, pathetic meth heads".

The victim suffers both physically and mentally - he is in pain constantly and has considered suicide.

"Every day i wake up and the first thing i notice is i am a missing a finger," he said.

"What did I possibly do?

"I feel bad every day for putting my parents through what they have been through and it's not even my fault it's the fault of this coward and his crew."

The victim said while his life was fraught with struggles and challenges he was starting to emerge from the darkness the attack had caused.

"I am lucky," he said.

"I am strong - stronger than any of the people who hurt me.

"It took all five of them to do what they did… I would never ever do anything like this to anybody.

"All of these people are not in their right minds and do not deserve freedom.

"These men are nothing but violent criminals… no matter what background you come from nobody is taught that doing the things you did to me is ok."

The victim's parents also shared their feelings about the ordeal.

"They are words no parents want to hear, your son has been badly injured," his mother said.

She directed most of her statement at Hourigan who she identified as the "ringleader" of the attack.

"You lure my son to an address… you give orders to beat him… you fracture his skull, you order your crew to tie him up, you gag, choke and strangle him, burn him, shoot him in both feet," she said.

"He has no idea what he is going to be subjected to, when and how this nightmare will end.

"You tell him… that he will be killed… I can't imagine why anyone would want to do these things… does it make you feel good?"

The mother, who cannot be named, described the attack as "calculated, prolonged, horrific and humiliating."

"I despise you for everything you have done," she said.

The men used secateurs to remove their victim's pinky finger. Photo / NZME stock
The men used secateurs to remove their victim's pinky finger. Photo / NZME stock

"The fact that you don't give a stuff causes me more emotional pain and suffering."

She thought about the attack daily and worried about her son, who had "everlasting injuries" and due to a frontal lobe injury, struggled to concentrate and function.

Hitman after family - police reveal killer plan

She revealed that about a month after the attack police contacted her to say a "hitman" had been contracted to seek out her son.

"We drop everything and leave our home. It is like being in a horror movie we can't turn off and my son is the hunted," she said.

After that she could not sleep, she was constantly watching for people who might be coming to kill her son or family.

The anguished parents spent "thousands" to send the victim overseas to safety.

They worry about him constantly, unable to be with him due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

"I am not there to help him, and that fills my heart with sadness," she said.

"I think about it every day - I wonder if my son can ever live a normal life."

"As I write this statement painful emotions resurface as I think back to the first night we see our son after you attacked him…. Our son lies… we don't recognise him. his face was swollen more than I can ever imagine a face could swell."

The mother said the attack was "cruel and sadistic".

"I ask if he is going to make it through the night, he looks so broken," she recalls of that night in hospital.

"He has come from hours of torture… he yells and swears as the anaesthetic wears off as he thinks he is still being tortured.

"This has turned our lives upside down.

"My son is still traumatised… he finds it too difficult to talk about what happens… it takes him back to the chair… he can feel the pain all over again.

"He has difficulty sleeping and when he does finally, he wakes from nightmares… he has flashbacks… He is always looking over his shoulder in case you reappear… he locks all the doors and checks them again… in case you or your associates come after him.

"We believe you would have killed him had he not escaped. I never will recover from the shock and horror of what you did to my son and how close we came to losing him."

The victim's father remembered the moment he saw his son in hospital after the attack.

"Will he live?" was his first and only thought.

"His head was literally double its normal size, I still have that image in my mind."

An Auckland man was kidnapped, tied to a chair and tortured for hours. Photo / 123RF stock image
An Auckland man was kidnapped, tied to a chair and tortured for hours. Photo / 123RF stock image

He vividly remembered his son's other injuries - the blood and bruising all over his body, the strangulation marks around his neck.

"This was a horrific attack… five against one… I am proud of him escaping you Liam Hourigan, a coward," he said.

Justice Katz said the impact statements were "powerful and moving" and reflected the deep suffering the victim had been through during and after the attack - and his family's extreme anguish.

Crown prosecutor Henry Steele said it was difficult to imagine the pain and fear the victim was subjected to.

"This is offending at the extreme end of the criminal spectrum," he said.

He said it was like something "from the script of a Tarantino movie".

Behind bars: Justice Katz delivers her sentence

Justice Katz said the attack had caused "devastating" trauma on the victim and his family.

"Their lives will never be the same," she said.

She said a judge who had dealt with the case earlier had described the attack as "like something taken from a gratuitously violent movie".

"He said he had never seen such a graphic summary of facts with such violent elements… short of a murder charge," said Justice Katz.

"The barbarity and cruelty is almost incomprehensible.

"This was exceptionally callous, sadistic... premeditated."

She said Hourigan was the lead offender but Kea was almost equally guilty.

"You were a willing henchman and willing participant," said Justice Katz to Kea.

She said she was required to take into account the offenders' backgrounds and upbringing including any cultural and social dislocation, poverty, drug and alcohol abuse, unemployment and educational under achievement - if they were shown to be causative to the offending.

Both criminals had presented cultural reports to the court along with the pre sentence reports usually ordered for such a hearing.

Henry Enoka Kea, left, and Liam Hourigan have been jailed for their part in a brutal kidnapping.
Henry Enoka Kea, left, and Liam Hourigan have been jailed for their part in a brutal kidnapping.

Hourigan said he was exposed to family violence and his parents were drug addicts.

He was expelled from his primary school at age 8 then again from high school.

That set him on the path to gang affiliation.

He was first jailed at 17 and has been using methamphetamine since he was a young teen.

He told the court his upbringing caused him to be "desensitised" to violence and there was "clear evidence of systemic deprivation" in his life.

Kea's reports show he had a "dysfunctional and violent upbringing".

He was a second generation gang associate and was at high risk of violent recidivism.

Justice Katz said the men's backgrounds meant they could have a small discount off their sentence, but there was "a clear need for community detention here".

"Mr Kea, you have not demonstrated any remorse," she said.

"Mr Hourigan, you have demonstrated limited remorse... . you have shown some insight into your offending."

A letter given to the court from Hourigan this morning "at the eleventh hour" did little to persuade the judge his remorse was deep.

She said the men had to be held accountable for the pain they had caused the victim - and their actions denounced.

Hourigan was jailed for a total of 12 years and seven months.

He was also sentenced for his part in an arson in an Epsom shop, which had people living above it at the time.

And he was sentenced for fleeing police - driving at speeds of more than 200km/h with a loaded firearm and a machete in his car.

Kea was jailed for a total of 10 years and six months.

Both must serve at least half of their sentences before they are eligible for parole.

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