Motel murder teens sentenced to life in prison

Berquist and Wallace-Loretz have been sentenced to life in prison for the murder and robbery of Ihaia Gillman-Harris (Newshub.)
Berquist and Wallace-Loretz have been sentenced to life in prison for the murder and robbery of Ihaia Gillman-Harris (Newshub.)

Two teenagers who bashed a man to death and robbed him have been sentenced to life in prison.

Leonard Nattrass-Berquist, 19, and Beauen Wallace-Loretz, 18 were convicted in April of the murder and robbery of Ihaia Gillman-Harris, 54, at the Ascot Motel in Epsom on December 27, 2014.

A pathologist found the 54-year-old suffered about five blows to the head and serious bruising to his body.

They faced three charges each of murder, aggravated robbery and unlawfully taking a motor vehicle and were separately found guilty on each count.

They were sentenced this morning at the High Court in Auckland. Nattrass-Berquist will service a minimum non-parole period of 10 years and nine months, while Wallace-Loretz will serve at least 11 years.

The sentencing began in front of a full public gallery, with supporters of both the victim and the teens waiting to hear the pair's fate.

Devastated family members of Mr Gillman-Harris read emotional victim impact statements.

The victim spent several hours driving the teens around Auckland before the attack. It was in the back seat of his car that the Crown said the pair formulated their plan to kill him.

The prosecution said the teens told Mr Gillman-Harris they'd perform a sexual act on him, before they murdered him and stole his money and car at the motel.

The prosecution produced text messages sent between the defendants before he was killed, which included: "should we roll him?" and "ima f**k a gay c*** up".

The jury rejected defence claims the pair attacked Mr Gillman-Harris in self-defence, after he tried to sexually assault one of them.

His brother Hoani Harris told the court he sought counselling after the 54-year-old's death, and became reclusive and detached from everyone and everything.

"I [saw a] mental image of him cowering and calling for help as he was set up on by these two," Mr Harris told the court as he pointed at the teens sitting in the dock.

He said the pair denied his children and grandchildren of an uncle and great uncle.

"You stole his life -- who gave you the right to steal his life?"

Mr Gillman-Harris' sister Sharon also read a statement to the court, describing the past 17 months as a rollercoaster.

"I'm devastated and stunned, it has broken my heart."

NZN / Newshub.