Neo-Nazi beliefs blamed for murders

A South Korean mother lamented the loss of her "perfect son" as two-time killer Hayden Brent McKenzie was sentenced today to at least another 21 years in jail for the slaying of backpacker Jae Hyeon Kim.

The Dominion Post, New Zealand/December 5, 2008

McKenzie's name suppression was lifted today, meaning it can now be revealed he is already in jail for the 1999 murder of a gay Westport man.

Justice Simon France said in the High Court at Wellington today that both killings were the result of McKenzie's "abhorrent" white supremacist neo-Nazi "hatreds", with the first victim being homosexual and Mr Kim being Asian.

McKenzie pleaded guilty on the second day of a depositions hearing in Greymouth in October.

This afternoon, Justice France sentenced him to life in prison, to serve at least 21 years.

McKenzie's name suppression was lifted today, but Justice France made an order preventing publication of images of McKenzie or any description of his appearance.

McKenzie looked around the court, appearing unconcerned as Mr Kim's mother broke down reading a statement about the effect the death of her son had on her.

Leebun Kim, 60, read victim impact statements from herself and her husband, which were translated in the court.

Breaking into tears and slamming the desk with her grief, she detailed the grief and pain the family had been through in not knowing where their son was, and to find out he had been murdered in a far away country.

"You heartless and cruel man, why did you kill such a precious life?"

She described Mr Kim as "a perfect son" who worked and studied hard and of whom the family was extremely proud.

The family had lived five years of pain without knowing of his fate.

Mr Kim had left home in February 2003 and they had been in constant touch with him until he disappeared in September that year.

The economics student is believed to have been killed on the West Coast between September 29 and October 22, 2003.

He had come to New Zealand to study and improve his English

Another man allegedly involved in the crime gave police the approximate position of the body and McKenzie led police to it recently. Mr Kim's clothing and possessions had been burned.

Four years earlier, in October 1999, West Coast eccentric and McKenzie family friend James "Janis" Bambrough, disappeared.

McKenzie and another man were convicted of murdering Bambrough. The body was found years later.

McKenzie has already served four years of the 10-year minimum imposed for that killing.

McKenzie's lawyer, Greg King, argued that if McKenzie were sentenced for 25 years it would be too much for two murders.

It was a senseless and needless death of a thoroughly decent young man.

"His death was random and he did nothing to provoke it.

"The ripples of his demise have travelled most forcefully to the other side of the globe, it has also been felt by New Zealand and New Zealanders. We are a nation that prides itself on how we welcome visitors."

McKenzie had led police to the exact location of Mr Kim's body after earlier evidence, Mr King said.

He had pleaded guilty at an early preliminary hearing and it may be that others may yet enter guilty pleas, he said.

If McKenzie had not helped police it was likely Mr Kim's remains might never have been found. Mr King said McKenzie had led police to the body in Mr Bambrough's case also.

McKenzie had shown genuine remorse, genuine cooperation and a genuine change of attitude and his physical involvement in both murders was a matter for debate, he said.

Justice France said McKenzie had been associated with a white supremacist group at the time of both killings, although in 2004 he had married and moved away from the lifestyle.

Two other people are still to face the courts over Mr Kim's death.

Nelson fisherman Shannon Flewellen will defend a murder charge in Greymouth in June next year. A second man, whose name and the nature of the charge he faces are suppressed, will also be on trial.

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