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Victim's sexual advances a factor in sentence

Thu 15 Dec 2011 In: New Zealand Daily News

Denis Phillips (left) and his teen killer Willie Ahsee (right) Sexual advances made by gay stabbing victim Denis Phillips have been taken into account in the five year sentence given to his teenage killer. Willie Ahsee, 17, has been given the jail term for the manslaughter of the non-sworn police officer, who he stabbed four times in his Papakura home last July. At the High Court in Auckland this morning, Justice Asher pointed out the aggravating factors that Ahsee used a knife, there was extreme violence and the most extreme harm was done. He then took a sentencing starting point of six and a half years jail, due to the context of the amount of alcohol Ahsee had drunk with Phillips on the night of the killing and the sexual advances the 59-year-old victim made towards him before he was killed. "There had been sexual actions by Mr Phillips that Mr Ahsee would have found difficult to deal with," Justice Asher said. "Mr Ahsee clearly was not homosexual and there was no indication that he'd had any homosexual sexual experience." Both the Crown and defence painted Phillips as a "homosexual with a liking for teenagers" and Justice Asher took into account that "unwelcome and intrusive advances" were a trigger for the stabbing. The sentence was then reduced from six and a half years to five years due to Ahsee's youth and his remorse, which included leading police to Phillips' body on the day after the stabbing. Ahsee contends he had been drinking with Phillips, his boxing trainer, when the pair started drinking and continued for four hours until they were drunk. In his evidence during the trial he told the court Phillips had touched his upper thigh and his ear, but denied the Crown's assertion that there had been full sexual contact, something indicated by saliva stains on clothing in the forensic evidence. The teenager said after the advances Phillips left the room momentarily and he opened a drawer too hard and utensils spilled on the floor. He said as he bent over to pick them up he was knocked over from behind by an angry Phillips, which is when he grabbed a knife, the first thing he touched, and swung around and stabbed Phillips in the neck because he wanted him to get away. He said a fight then ensued. The neck wound was fatal and Phillips was discovered by police face down in his hallway in a pool of blood the following day, after the teenager led them to the house. However the full facts of the case remain murky, with some key points of Ahsee's statements at odds with forensic evidence and his memory patchy due to his alcohol intake on the night. Justice Asher conceded that apart from the undisputed facts, "where the truth lies, it is not possible to say". The judge told the teenager he has to live with the terrible thing he has done and must accept how "dreadful and unjustified" the events of the night were. He said he hopes Ahsee, who was studying motor mechanics before his arrest, will go on to learn a trade, live a prosperous life and make his family proud of him.    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Thursday, 15th December 2011 - 12:30pm

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