Search Browse On This Day Map Quotations Timeline Research Free Datasets Remembered About Contact

Phillips' family haunted by his violent death

Thu 15 Dec 2011 In: New Zealand Daily News

Denis Phillips The sister of slain gay Papakura man Denis Phillips says her family will forever be haunted by his gruesome death at the hands of a teenager. Seventeen-year-old Willie Ahsee has today been sentenced to five years jail for the manslaughter of the temporary non-sworn police officer, who he fatally stabbed in his Papakura home in July 2010. It came after a night of drinking, where Phillips made sexual advances towards him. During this morning's sentencing at the High Court in Auckland Justice Asher read a line from Phillips' mother's written victim impact statement, where she stated "nothing that he did can be used as an excuse for the terrible way he died." Phillips' sister Sharon travelled up from the South Island to be in court and with her husband standing by her side, stoically read her victim impact statement. She described how she heard about her brother's death on the 6PM news, and saw a picture of him flashed up. "I got such a shock I screamed," she said, then recalled that her mother was so rocked by the news she was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance. Sharon told the court said the Denis Phillips her family knew and loved was a man who dedicated his life to the military and the police. "We couldn't understand why someone had taken his life in such a vicious and callous way." After the news of his death, she and her husband flew to Auckland immediately to find out what had happened and arranged her brother's funeral. Her mother was unable to attend and farewell her son due to her health, and was also unable to come to the unveiling of his headstone. She said the stress of taking time off work for frequent trips to Auckland was compounded by having to care for her ill mother. In September, two months after the killing, Sharon packed up her brother's house, which she told the court was heartbreaking, adding she couldn't stop thinking about the way he died and added she would never forgive Ahsee for stealing her brother's property as he lay on his hallway floor bleeding to death. Sharon sat through every minute of Ahsee's trial, even as pictures of her brother's bloodied house and of him lying dead on his hallway floor were shown the jury, and his killer gave evidence. "We were devastated he was portrayed as being an evil person," she said, adding Ahsee's evidence and its lack of substantiation by the forensic evidence was "surreal". She broke down as she said, "our family has to live knowing Denis will never come home and the manner in which he died will haunt us for many years." Sharon is far from satisfied with the five year sentence her brother's killer received.    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Thursday, 15th December 2011 - 2:36pm

Rights Information

This page displays a version of a article that was automatically harvested before the website closed. All of the formatting and images have been removed and some text content may not have been fully captured correctly. The article is provided here for personal research and review and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of If you have queries or concerns about this article please email us