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Gillman-Harris murder - The Sentencing

Tue 24 May 2016 In: Our Communities View at Wayback View at NDHA

The two youths this morning sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of gay man Ihaia Gillman-Harris in December 2014 had "unsettled and "appalling" lives, Justice Kit Toogood said in his lead-up to sentencing the pair. Beauen Wallace-Loretz and Leonard Nattrass-Bergquist, both 17 when they killed Gillman-Harris, 54, in an Epsom motel room, appeared silent and with very close-cropped hair in the dock as the judge explained the sentencing. The defense for the pair had asserted that they attacked Gillman-Harris in self-defense, claiming the older man had tried to sexually violate Nattrass-Bergquist. The crown asserted that Gillman-Harris (pictured above) had been anticipating consensual sex. He described Wallace-Loretz's upbringing as "appalling... you were a victim of, and a witness to, violence and subject to violence by your father," he said, adding that in one violent childhood episode Wallace-Loretz's head was cracked against the floor and he spent three months in hospital recovering. He noted Wallace-Loretz was a regular user of cannabis and alcohol who had been listed as a missing person on three occasions. During the trial evidence was given that Wallace-Loretz lived with his mother who was frequently abusive and on many occasions he had no home to sleep in. Toogood said Wallace-Loretz had "a deep well of anger" which had become apparent in remand prison, where periods of "anger and violence" had marred an otherwise good behaviour record. But, he said, Wallace-Loretz had been assessed as not being remorseful for his actions. Justice Toogood said Nattrass-Bergquist, described in a pre-sentence report as "naive and vulnerable," had had an "unsettled childhood" and had come to the attention of the police against a background of "unguided living." He said Nattrass-Bergquist had not yet taken responsibility for what he did. Toogood described the pair's behaviour after the attack, during which Gillman-Harris was brutally beaten with a bat, as "callous." He noted they stole his money and his car and left him injured "with no concern for his well-being." He said that regardless of what part each took in the attack they were jointly responsible. However, Toogood also took into consideration that the pair, who have little educational achievement, were now studying in prison and that, due to their youthful age and consequent lack of maturity at the time of the attack, they "failed to appreciate the terrible consequences of what you were about to do." He described the pair's planning of the attack, captured in text messages, as "not lengthy or sophisticated." And Toogood accepted that the pair's apparent "state of denial" could be "a coping mechanism." Starting at the mandatory 17 years without parole for murder Toogood deducted 5 years on account of their youth and one year to acknowledge their "traumatic past." Nattrass-Bergquist had a further 3 months deducted in acknowledgement of his time spent under extremely restrictive bail conditions. Both youths were also sentenced to five years for aggravated robbery and three months for stealing Gillman-Harris's Range Rover, the sentences to be served concurrently with the murder sentences. Before the sentencing family members read victim impact statements detailing the strains and devastation the close-knit extended family had endured. A brother said: "I have no forgiveness for you as human beings… I will need to forgive myself for allowing your actions to contaminate my life… and my soul.... You stole his life, who gave you the right to steal my brother's life?" Daily News staff - 24th May 2016    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Tuesday, 24th May 2016 - 11:13am

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