Losing the lives of their mother, sister and niece to similar, fatal acts of domestic violence has been a pain too terrible to bear for Lynace Parakuka's immediate whānau.
Several told of their anguish in emotion-charged victim impact statements read in the High Court at Rotorua this morning when Jason Wiremu Poihipi was sentenced to life imprisonment for murdering his seven weeks pregnant partner Parakuka in the grounds of Rotorua's St Michael's School in September last year.
A jury in the same court found him guilty on September 27 this year. Justice Ian Gault granted Poihipi a 10-year, six-month minimum non-parole period, stressing this will be the length of time he must serve behind bars before he can appear before the Parole Board.
He stressed this didn't necessarily mean parole would be granted then and when it was the now 20-year-old would remain on parole for life. He took into account Poihipi's age when fixing the non-parole period.
In an unusual sentencing twist, Poihipi stood in the dock, turned to face his victim's whānau and a smattering of his own, telling them through tears how sorry he was for taking Lynace's life.
Rubbing is head and trembling, he said he lived with what he had done every day but accepted nothing could change that.
"I am so sorry, my intention never was to kill her . . . she was the love of my life, I am so so sorry." For the remainder of his sentencing, he sat with his head hung low.
After the verdict was delivered it was revealed Parakuka's mother also died at the hands of a drunk, jealous partner as she was celebrating her daughter's 14th birthday.
In her victim impact statement, Lynace Parakuka's great-aunt Mahinarangi told how Parakuka, 22 at the time of her death, had always hated her birthday because that was the day her mother was killed, the bad memories of that day always haunted her.
"We have lost them both as victims of violence," she said.
She talked of her disgust at the "willful, cruel, violent" assault Poihipi inflicted on Lynace, saying she would always be remembered for her cheerfulness and big cheeky smile.
"Fourteen months, two hours [and the continuing minutes] on our grief remains raw."
Parakuka's grandmother's sister, Ruth Pirini-Hape, said the whānau would never get over the tragedy.
"Whatever sentence is passed we are left to live with this [Lynace's death] for the rest of our lives." She accused Poihipi of being cruel and horrible.
Sobbing and choking Savarna Tysson told of turning to alcohol to ease the deep depression she has suffered since her sister's murder.
"My behaviour has changed since her death, I don't trust men any more having lost my mother and loving little sister in similar circumstances.
"This has made me want to be the best mother I can be, I want to look towards a future without domestic violence."
Justice Gault outlined how Poihipi had administered 11 to 20 blows to Parakuka and kicked her in the face as she tried to get up. Describing the blows as sustained and frenetic, the judge said they had been so severe they had moved Parakuka's brain inside her head.
He accepted Poihipi had sat with his victim for 20 minutes before going to a cousin for help and had administered CPR before the emergency services they called arrived.
Before the attack, Poihipi consumed alcohol, methamphetamine and magic mushrooms.
He canvassed Poihipi's upbringing in a gang-entrenched home where domestic violence was the norm, noting he had been removed twice from his family's care by what is now Oranga Tamariki.
The first time was when he was 5, he was returned a year later, however, he was back in Oranga Tamariki's custody when was 9. Since then Poihipi had amassed a lengthy list of criminal offences. At 14 he'd been jailed for three years and three months for violent offending.
Since his conviction, Poihipi has been assessed as suffering profound depression and was being kept apart from other prisoners.
He said he accepted and understood the profound grief Parakuka's whānau were suffering.
Passing sentence, Justice Gault said he hoped the remorse Poihipi had indicated would be affirmed by his willingness to rehabilitate himself.
Outside the court, Parakuka's whānau did not comment on the sentence but Poihipi's aunt, Jennifer Poihipi, said she considered it was a good outcome and reiterated another whānau member's earlier claim that they had loved Lynace.