Northland killer gets home detention after victim asks his family to forgive the man

As 17-year-old Tawhirimatea Tahere lay dying in the arms of his parents on a Kaikohe street his last words were for them to forgive and look after the man who had just shot him – his cousin and friend Aige Adlam-Kiro.

In the High Court at Whangārei yesterday Aige Shakur Valintine Adlam-Kiro, 22, was sentenced to 10 months’ home detention for the manslaughter of Tawhirimatea Leevi Jershon Tahere – known as Tawhs – and for the unlawful possession of a firearm, a sawn-off double-barrel shotgun that had been converted into a pistol grip.

Police were called to the corner of Heke and Hongi Sts on the night of February 24 this year, after reports of a gunshot. Tahere died on the way to hospital.

At the start of the sentencing Tawhs’ mother Aroha Tahere read her victim impact statement that was packed with emotion, compassion and forgiveness.

She said Tawhs was her only son among her four children, who was known as their ‘marital blessing’ as he was born nine months to the day after their wedding.

Aroha said her heart stopped and her whole world crumbled when Tawhs died. She heard the noise of the gun and went outside to find Tawhs in his father’s arms on the ground.

He was in pain but conscious so she grabbed his hand and told him it would be ‘alright Tawhs’.”

”I didn’t think for a moment he would pass away,” Aroha said.

”He said ‘It’s okay, I’m okay. I love you mum, I love you dad. Look after Aige, forgive Aige’,”.

She said it would be disrespectful if his family did not honour his last wishes.

The two families had held a restorative justice hearing where Adlam-Kiro has apologised and committed to do all he could to make things right.

Aroha said it was her whanau’s wish that Adlam-Kiro did not go to jail as it would not allow them – or him and his whanau – to heal if he was behind bars.

”Tawhs passed away with no hate or anger, but with a strong testament of his faith … to always put family first, that’s my biggest lesson.”

At the restorative justice meeting, Adlam-Kiro committed to get the counselling he needed and to take responsibility for the maintenance and upkeep of Tawh’s grave.

Justice Gerard van Bohemen said the summary of facts shows that the two men were playing with the firearm in Adlam-Kiro’s car outside the Tahere home.

Justice Bohemen said Adlam-Kiro said the gun went off accidentally as he was playing with it and he did not know that it was even loaded.

The judge said Tawh’s was Adlam-Kiro’s cousin and friend who looked up to him after they grew up together.

”You said the gun discharged … you said you didn’t know the firearm was loaded,” Justice Bohemen said.

”You have heard the impact on Tawh’s family, you have heard how his mother’s heart stopped and how she crumbled.”

He said Adlam-Kiro had to live with the thought that he had killed his cousin and friend and the impact it had on all their whanau.

Justice Bohemen said it was clear that Adlam-Kiro had shown genuine remorse for his actions that led to his cousin’s death and he accepted thatAdlam-Kiro did not know the weapon was loaded.

”This was a real tragedy.”

He said the wishes of a family in regards to a sentencing do not drive the judge’s decision, but they can provide some guidance.

Justice Bohemen said Aroha’s victim impact statement was one of the most compassionate and forgiving he had ever heard and it was clear that imprisonment would impact on the whanau healing.

The judge gave a starting point for sentencing of four years’ jail. He then gave a reduction totalling 55 per cent for a number of factors, including Adlam-Kiro’s youth, his genuine remorse, very early guilty plea and lack of any previous convictions.

This left an end sentence of one year and 18 months’ jail, which then opened the possibility of home detention. He sentenced Adlam-Kiro to 10 months’ home detention on both charges, to be served concurrently.

The judge said imprisonment would not be appropriate in this case.

Justice Bohemen also had a message for Adlam-Kiro – make sure he upholds commitments he made during the restorative justice meeting and to go on and live a productive life.

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