Eugene Baker sentenced to life in prison for the murder and decapitation of Petone man Frank Tyson

Warning: This story contains graphic details that may upset some readers.

Eugene Baker has been sentenced to life imprisonment for the grisly murder and decapitation of Petone man Francis Tyson.

A minimum parole period of 17 years was handed down by Justice Robert Dobson in the Wellington High Court on Friday.

Baker, 42, had previously plead guilty to murdering his 71-year-old neighbour in November 2018.

The pair were selling synthetic cannabis.  When Tyson refused to hand his supply to Baker, Baker stabbed him to death before decapitating him.

Baker then wandered around the apartment complex, informing residents he had murdered Tyson, but not to worry as he would clean up the crime scene in a few days.

He then wrapped Tyson's head in a towel and placed it inside a plastic bag before walking down Jackson St, swinging the head in the bag.

Tension between the pair had earlier increased when Baker was given notice to leave his flat, near Tyson's. He believed Tyson had informed on him to Housing NZ.

In a victim statement on Friday, Tyson's older sister Diana Fincham described the horrific impact the murder had had on her and Tyson's wider family. 

"Upon hearing of the death of my brother at your hands, you have given me long time emotional, physical and mental harm. The effects have been long-term. The death has affected me in ways you may never understand," she said.

She said she heard about a death in Petone on the radio and when she contacted Tyson she received no answer. It wasn't until the police arrived at her house that she found out her brother had been the victim.

Another of Tyson's sisters said there had been no closure.

"To be told he had been stabbed in the heart brought me to tears… but you went one further than that. You decapitated him then paraded his head down the street like a trophy," she said in a statement.

"Every time I think about my Francis, I see a headless man. There will be no peace or rest from this horrific crime. No closure for me."

Defence lawyer, Brett Crowley, said that his client had a drug problem when the killing occurred. But since the murder, Baker had regained his morality and understood the implications of his actions.

Justice Dobson said treating Tyson's head like a "trophy" showed "gross indignity" and Baker's recent showing of remorse couldn't count for much when considering the length of minimum parole period. 

"Your change of heart is to be encouraged, but in my sentencing analysis, it cannot carry great weight," he said.

Baker's decision to plead guilty early was significant. However, it was in the face of a strong case against him from the Crown, Justice Dobson said.