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A convicted killer has had his minimum period of imprisonment shortened after a successful appeal.

Ueta Vea murdered Laulimu Liuasi, a 62-year-old man who was living on the grounds of the St John the Evangelist Church, in Ōtara, on January 13 last year.

Both men attended the same church with their families and had even worked together to maintain that church property.

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Annoyed at what he suspected was an inappropriate relationship between his
wife and the victim, Vea had armed himself with a machete and ambushed the victim in his home.

Ueta Vea pleaded guilty to killing Laulimu Liuasi. Photo / Michael Craig
Ueta Vea pleaded guilty to killing Laulimu Liuasi. Photo / Michael Craig

Using the machete Vea struck Liuasi several times including a blow that severed the 62-year-old's spinal cord.

Vea watched as blood pooled around the victim and then left.

Last month, Vea appealed the minimum period he would have to spend behind bars based on the starting point used in sentencing, the reduction given in respect of mitigating factors and the decision to impose the section 104 figure.

Today, Justice Simon France released the Court of Appeal's decision.

He said the court considered the guilty plea had come at the "earliest opportunity".

"It is a strong Crown case, and no doubt one the investigation would have readily resolved even without Mr Vea's input.

"Nevertheless, his immediate acknowledgment and assistance in detailing what
happened should not be downplayed for that reason."

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The Court of Appeal also noted ifoga, the Samoan practice of seeking forgiveness for wrongdoing, although not directly involving Vea, was culturally relevant, and constituted, as the Crown accepts, an offer to make amends.

"It is indeed a positive step in that direction."

Laulimu Liuasi's body was found in a pool of blood on the grounds of the St John the Evangelist Church in Ōtara. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Laulimu Liuasi's body was found in a pool of blood on the grounds of the St John the Evangelist Church in Ōtara. Photo / Jason Oxenham

The minimum period of imprisonment of 17 years was quashed and replaced by 15 years and six months.

The underlying sentence of life imprisonment was unaffected.