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High Court considers keeping murderous teen’s name secret

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The teen bought a machete from Hunting & Fishing NZ on the day of the attack. Photo / 123RF

A high school student who wrote a detailed “kill plan” and told his ex to stay away from school on the day he wanted to kill her new boyfriend is fighting to keep his name secret.

In the High Court at Wellington today, Justice Christine Grice considered whether to lift name suppression for the teenager, who swung a machete at his victim’s head, slicing open his chest and forearm.

Initially, the teen planned to attack the new boyfriend at school but, when his plans went awry, he went to his schoolmate’s home days later, armed with a 61-centimetre machete and wearing a black mask and gloves.

The first blow landed on the victim’s chest and the second, made with an overhead swing, gashed his forearm as he raised it to protect his head. Several tendons and muscles were exposed.

The cut to his chest caused a shard of rib to splinter off, puncturing and collapsing his lung.

“So, I seen my chest, it was like open, open like I could, oh, like I could feel the lungs like in there and like the heartbeat and that was real scary because those things are meant to be kept inside you,” the victim said in his evidence.

The attack ended only when the victim’s parents intervened and his father took away the machete. The defendant fled and was caught two days later in Palmerston North while on a bus to the Bay of Plenty, still wearing a hoodie with bloodstains on it.

A hearing in the High Court at Wellington will decide whether the teenage offender's name will be kept secret.
A hearing in the High Court at Wellington will decide whether the teenage offender’s name will be kept secret.

He was sentenced last month to 12 months’ home detention for the attempted murder of his friend.

But the decision on whether name suppression should lapse was put off so his lawyer, Louise Sziranyi, could seek opinions from medical professionals on how being named would affect the boy.

While youths have automatic name suppression in the Youth Court jurisdiction, this does not always apply in the High Court.

Sziranyi submitted a clinical psychologist’s report and argued that the offender, who is now 17, was in a good space and naming him would undo all the work he had done on his rehabilitation.

She said the recent Supreme Court decision that lifted name suppression on a man who raped and sexually assaulted fellow high school students at parties did not change matters for her client.

In this case, the need for open justice should be displaced by the important need for him to reintegrate into society.

But Crown prosecutor Amanda Jane Brosnan said the case for extreme hardship had not been made.

She argued the offender was not vulnerable, did not suffer from a brain injury, mental illness or any disorder and had good whānau support.

With 11 months to run on his home detention sentence, he had time to prepare for being named, she said.

The judge reserved her decision.

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