Haami Hanara,, the baby-faced symbol of a spate of youth brutality in Hawke's Bay, has been sentenced to life imprisonment for murder.

The fourth youth to appear in the High Court at Napier on a murder charge in the space of 12 months, Hanara was on Tuesday handed down a sentence with a minimum non-parole period of 10 years.

Wearing a white T-shirt, hair neatly styled, the teenager smiled at his family members sitting in the public gallery as he entered the court, two months after being found guilty of murder and theft.

Hanara turned 15 on Christmas Day, but was 14 when he stabbed Flaxmere man Kelly Donner, 40, four times with a knife - twice in the neck and once in the chest and another time in the shoulder - on March 4, 2018.

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One of the blows proved fatal, severing Donner's carotid artery and leaving him dying, alone, in a pool of his own blood.

Donner, who preferred to "sleep rough" was well known around the Flaxmere Village and would often clean supermarket trolleys, help people with their shopping or carried laundry to their car.

He was known as "kind and humble man" to those who knew him.

On March 4, near 10.20pm, Hanara and four other teenagers entered an enclosed yard of the Flaxmere Tavern in a bid to steal alcohol.

Donner happened to be in the yard looking for cigarette butts and loaned Hanara his torch which he passed to another associate in order to hot wire a car, parked in the yard.

Donner eventually asked for his torch back but when but when the teenager refused, Donner became angry.

An attack escalated, and a beer bottle was smashed in Donner's face.

He escaped the yard and ran out behind the tavern where the attack continued.

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Glass bottles, pieces of wood and even chunks of concrete and a bicycle were thrown at Donner who also armed himself with bottles to retaliate against the youths before retreating.

Crown prosecutor Steve Manning alleged that Hanara hid in the shadows until Donner turned his back and walked away.

It was then the teenager followed him, stabbing him four times before he and the rest of the youths "stomped punched and kicked him" while he was lying on the ground before they all fled.

A victim impact statement read by one of Donner's family members described the entire process as "devastating".

"We are just not devastated by what has occurred but how it occurred.

"The cost to us emotionally and financially has been huge."

Another Donner family member said he felt hurt and was grieving, but was satisfied with the outcome of the trial and "felt for both families".

Another said "I have never experienced anything like this, I feel sad for Haami as his actions have consequences that will live with him for the rest of his life."

Defence counsel Eric Forster said Hanara had alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder, ADHD and a mental impairment.

He also came from a "disadvantaged background", growing up in a family that had strong gang loyalties where gang behavior was prioritised.

"It left my client hungry and short of schooling."

He said Hanara's intellectual disabilities should be taken into account, and stated that Donner got involved in the fight with the group of five youths.

However, Justice Peter Churchman disagreed there was any "provocation" when it came to Donner's involvement.

"It was a response rather than an initiation," he said.

"By the time you stabbed him, he had stopped and chose to walk away from you...
It was only then, when you were not under any threat, you chose to follow him."

Hanara was given a discount of two years to the minimum non-parole period for his intellectual disabilities and difficult upbringing.

A small tree, a Michelia, grows on the spot where Donner died, in remembrance.