The man who murdered Connor Morris during a street fight last August has been sentenced to life in prison.

Michael Thrift Murray, 34, must spend 10 years in prison before he can apply for parole. He will be kept in isolation for the entire time given Mr Morris' connection to the Head Hunters gang and threats to his killer's life by associates.

Details of his criminal history were also revealed for the first time in court today including a conviction for common assault in 2007 and another for possession of an offensive weapon a year later.

READ MORE
The Big Read: Death of Connor Morris - Anatomy of a streetfight

Advertisement

He had a number of other convictions but all were "minor" and he had never been to prison before his fatal attack on Mr Morris.

On August 3 last year a street fight broke out between two groups on Don Buck Rd in Massey.

Mr Morris, 27, was involved in the fight. Murray saw Mr Morris attacking his younger brother and hit him in the head with a sickle-like tool he had run to his nearby home and retrieved earlier.

He admitted killing Mr Morris but denied the charge of murder saying he acted in defence of his brother.

After a two week trial a jury of eight men and four women found him guilty.

In the High Court at Auckland today Murray was sentenced. Mr Morris mother Julie and sister Cymmion were in court supported by other family and friends.

His father Chris did not attend. His partner Millie Elder-Holmes is overseas but her mother Hine Elder was at the hearing.

The Morris family and Ms Elder-Holmes wrote victim impact statements ahead of sentencing but they were not read out loud in court.

Advertisement
Connor Morris and Milly Edler-Holmes. Morris died in the arms of his partner after he was struck by Murray. Photo / Facebook
Connor Morris and Milly Edler-Holmes. Morris died in the arms of his partner after he was struck by Murray. Photo / Facebook

Prosecutor David Johnstone said the statements outlined a "deep and inevitable" and ongoing personal impact as a conequence of the offending.

He described Murray's actions towards Mr Morris as "drastically inappropriate".

"When he went to go and get his weapon, the proposition that it was simply to have available for scaring people... is fanciful. There must have been some awareness," he said.
He said a life sentencing with a minimum non parole period of 10 years was appropriate.

Defence lawyer Marie Dyhrberg said Murray had read the victim impact statements and the Crown submissions.

"It is beyond question that the grief and the loss by the four persons that wrote those is profound," she said.

"Those feelings are feelings that may ease but they are never going to be taken away at all. He understands all the matters raised."

Murray was remorseful and maintained that he never meant to kill or even hurt Mr Morris. He acknowledged his actions were reckless and even excessive in terms of defence - but there was no murderous intent.

She outlined how, since being jailed, Murray had obtained high school qualifications and was now looking at tertiary study.

He was a model inmate but was struggling with being in isolation and Ms Dyhrberg said his mental health would suffer if he was given a life sentence.

"He has no real way... of defending those (threats to his life). The are very real to him."

She asked Justice Edwin Wylie to consider a fixed sentence rather than one of life.

However Justice Wylie agreed with the Crown.

He said he had to hand down a sentence that would deter others from committing crimes similar.

He said Murray had other options the night he killed Mr Morris. He could have called police or stayed at his home.

But he "premeditated" the attack and armed himself with the sickle.

"You were, putting it bluntly, old enough to know better," Justice Wylie told Murray.

Outside court Ms Dyhrberg said Murray's sentence was fair. However he may appeal his conviction.

"We are still considering whether there are grounds for an appeal," she said.

"We have 28 days to do that. If we find grounds, we will appeal."

She said Murray was mellow, calm and accepting ahead of sentencing.

He was remorseful and understood the seriousness of his offending and the consequences.

"Obviously it's not a good thing to have to live with day by day," she said.

In prison Murray was being kept isolated from other prisoners due to threats to his safety by members of the Head Hunters and other gangs.

Ms Dyhrberg said he was focussing on his education and planned on university study.

"He is being well looked after by Corrections. He fears for his life every day," she said.

Detective Senior Sergeant Stan Brown did not comment on the sentence.

"We are just there for the victims. Victims come from everywhere in society," he said.

"Our hearts go out to both families, but particularly the Morris family, the grief that they are feeling."

He said each time the Morris family came to court they had "re live" what happened.

"They are a family, a mother, a father and a sister. They have lost a member of that family - a son, a brother.

"They are hurting immensely."

After court Mrs Morris and her daughter left without speaking to media. They were quiet in court and appeared relieved when sentencing was over.

One relative walked out of court and shouted 'you f**king piece of s**t' at Murray.