An Atiamuri man who punched and kicked his partner to death and struck her with an iron pole has tried to get his appeal heard again on the grounds he believed his lawyer didn't do a good job.
James William Te Hiko was found guilty in April 2017 of murdering 41-year-old Queenie Karaka, known as Nina Thompson, in April 2016 at Atiamuri.
He was sentenced by Justice Murray Gilbert to life imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of 17 years on June 10, 2017.
Despite Thompson being unconscious after being punched and kicked more than 70 times and fighting for her life, Te Hiko chose not to seek medical attention for her.
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Te Hiko appealed his conviction and sentence to the Court of Appeal and it was dismissed. Te Hiko then sought a re-hearing of the appeal, primarily on the grounds of alleged shortcomings by the lawyer, Daniel Gardiner from Auckland, who represented him at the appeal.
A recently released Court of Appeal decision given by Justice Christine French on behalf of herself, Justice Cameron Mander and Justice Rachel Dunningham declined the application for the appeal to be heard again and disagreed with comments made about Gardiner's handling of the case.
Te Hiko admitted manslaughter but argued he lacked murderous intent because he was impaired by alcohol and drugs at the time of the killing.
The decision said Te Hiko gave evidence during the trial, saying he was addicted to methamphetamine and alcohol and was seeking treatment.
He explained he had a safety plan designed to keep him sober which his partner breached by inviting people to their home to drink. He said he ended up drinking too and also smoked methamphetamine, the decision said.
After the guests had left, he got into an argument with Thompson and she led him to understand she might have slept with someone else but refused to say who, the decision said.
He became enraged and attacked her, an action he attributed to the effects of methamphetamine. He estimated the assault would have lasted about 30 minutes with each blow accompanied by the question "Who the f*** is it?".
He admitted punching her in the head, kicking her "in the guts", lifting her up off the bed by her hair and throwing her around but denied ever using the pipe.
He accounted for her blood on the pipe by saying the police or ESR must have planted it there, the decision said.
The main ground of the application for the appeal to be heard again was the alleged incompetence of Gardiner, his appeal lawyer.
The decision said Te Hiko made numerous allegations including that his lawyer misunderstood and misinterpreted the grounds of appeal and misrepresented them in his submissions.
Te Hiko claimed his lawyer was "inexperienced" and "way out of [his] league".
However, the decision said regardless of the quality of the oral submissions, the particularised grounds of appeal and the written submissions were detailed and very clear.
"The court was well aware of the arguments which it for good reasons considered wholly untenable. The quality of the oral submissions would have had no effect on the outcome of the appeal."
Justice French said in the decision the judges were not persuaded that Te Hiko's application for a recall satisfied any of the three prerequisites for recall.
"There has been no fundamental error in the appeal process let alone one which requires correction in order to avoid a miscarriage of justice."
They noted Te Hiko had the option to seek the leave of the Supreme Court to appeal.