Warning: Graphic content.

A young man has been found not guilty of murdering his father, who was compared to Once Were Warriors character Jake "the Muss" Heke.

The trial of the accused, whose identity remains suppressed, began nearly a month ago in the High Court at Auckland.

Today, just after 4pm, the jury reached their verdict and delivered it to Justice Ailsa Duffy.


The young man, standing in the dock, burst into tears and exhaled in relief as the foreman told the court, "not guilty".

The free man then thanked the jury and judge before embracing family and friends.

After being found not guilty of murder the young man was also found not guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter.

Justice Duffy thanked the jury for their service and said she had never been in a trial which had been so emotional.

Several suppression orders prevent the Herald from revealing further explicit details about the killing, which occurred in South Auckland last year.

The suppressions orders, however, will be revisited at a hearing later this year after Justice Duffy told the court significant issues of public importance were raised during the trial.

Justice Ailsa Duffy was presiding over the trial. Photo / Greg Bowker
Justice Ailsa Duffy was presiding over the trial. Photo / Greg Bowker

The father, who was in his 40s, was stabbed six times, including to the head and the fatal strike to his chest.

A 27cm-long knife, with a 14cm blade, was plunged 11cm deep into his body during the short but violent confrontation, the trial heard.

The knife nicked the right lung and penetrated the father's heart.

The accused, who is in his 20s, relied on a self-defence claim, with his defence team, led by Denise Wallwork describing the father as "a monster" who "terrorised his family, both emotionally and physically".

On the night of the killing, the father had seriously assaulted his wife, punching her several times to the face and kicking her.

Her wounds were so severe that one of her eyes had become dislodged from its socket.

She fled to her son's home but the father soon followed and began yelling at his family from outside the home, which had its doors locked and curtains drawn.

The son's partner called police, however, before officers arrived he left the relative safety of the home clutching a knife and checking if his father had left.

"That's why I grabbed the knife, because if I go out there [with nothing] he's going to give me a big hiding," the accused explained in his police interview.

"Seeing my mum, I knew what he was going to do to me he would do to her, that's why I grabbed the knife."

Defence counsel Denise Wallwork. Photo / Greg Bowker
Defence counsel Denise Wallwork. Photo / Greg Bowker

When he walked onto the deck the young man said he was punched to the side of the head by his father, who had been lurking in the shadows.

"It was very loud you could hear it," the younger sibling, who was hiding in the house, said of the punch during his testimony.

"I just heard the punch and someone scream and you could hear heavy footsteps on the ground ... Then the stabbing.

"I thought my dad had tried to kill him."

When the younger brother went outside he saw his father "up against the wall with blood coming out of him".

"There was a lot of blood," he said.

His brother was apologising and crying: "I did ... I stabbed him."

The court had heard that the son's parents had been together for about two decades and had moved to Auckland with their children.

During the trial, the defendant's mother spoke of her abusive relationship with her late husband.

Crown prosecutor Gareth Kayes. Photo / Greg Bowker
Crown prosecutor Gareth Kayes. Photo / Greg Bowker

She told the court her husband would accuse her of "going out and sleeping around" and was involved in affairs with his family members.

"[He'd] give me hidings for it," she said, trying to hold back tears.

"Until I started bleeding and then he'd stop - I guess he thought it as seeing that he'd done his job."

Her children, she said, were witnesses to the abuse.

"I tried not to let them see it ... I would just take them away, take them to friends for them to look after them for a little bit."

As the family dynamics were recalled in court the defendant broke down in tears several times.

"Only two people saw what happened outside on the deck," Crown prosecutor Gareth Kayes said of the fatal night.