An Atiamuri man has lost his bid to overturn his conviction and sentence for murdering his partner during a savage beating.

However, the Court of Appeal justices, who dismissed both appeals, granted James William Te Hiko leave to file new evidence about his drug addiction at the time of the killing.

Te Hiko, 44, was found guilty of murdering 41-year-old Queenie Karaka, known as Nina Thompson, at Atiamuri in April 2017, after she was punched and kicked more than 70 times and struck several times on the head and body with the heavy iron pole.

Despite being unconscious and fighting for her life, Te Hiko chose not to seek medical attention for her, the recently released Court of Appeal judgment said.


Justice Murray Gilbert sentenced Te Hiko to a life imprisonment sentence with a minimum non-parole period of 17 years in the Rotorua High Court on June 10, 2017.

Te Hiko admitted manslaughter but argued he lacked murderous intent because he was impaired by alcohol and drugs at the time of the killing.

He appealed his murder conviction and 17 years sentence on three main grounds.

He claimed the Crown evidence did not sustain the inference that he used a weapon and contended his legal counsel did not adequately advance his case to the jury.

He also contended he was not adequately prepared to give evidence, so suffered under cross-examination and blamed his trial counsel for insufficient time spent briefing him.

The implications of his drug addiction were also not adequately explained to the jury, he said.

Te Hiko sought leave for his drug counsellor, Tokerau Putai, to be able to provide further evidence of his P-addiction, his genuine attempts to gain control of it, and also that psychosis was a risk factor while under the influence of methamphetamine.

Te Hiko also argued too much was made of the metal bar, and blood spatters on the bedroom ceiling were inconsistent with the use of the bar.

The three Court of Appeal justices said they were satisfied there was no error by Te Hiko's legal counsel nor any miscarriage of justice.

"We accept Mr Te Hiko did not present well [to the jury] and we have noted that cross-examination went badly for him, but it could hardly be otherwise given the narrative he offered to advance," the justices said.

They also found the use of the steel pipe was "well-nigh irresistible" inference to be drawn by the jury from the Crown's evidence.

"The possibility that Te Hiko was so affected by methamphetamine as to lack murderous intent was squarely before the jury...It cannot be said their verdict was unreasonable."

In terms of appeal against the sentence, the three justices said they were also satisfied the facts of the case were as the trial judge Justice Murray Gilbert found.

Justice Gilbert described the murder as brutal and callous and did not accept Te Hiko was heavily influenced by alcohol and drugs at the time of the killing.

However, the Court of Appeal justices granted the application for leave to cite or produce new evidence and also granted an extension of time to do so.