Chainsaw bar killing: Beer at 5am, murder at 2pm

A 111 operator heard the moment Wireless Ford killed Korekore Putai with "at least 11 blows" from a chainsaw bar.

Ford was convicted of killing Korekore Putai at the High Court in Rotorua this month after pleading guilty to one charge of murder relating to an incident that took place at a Tokoroa address on August 22, 2019.

Putai was killed at the home he shared with his partner and Ford after what appears to have been a row over cigarettes.

The summary notes that Ford worked for Putai doing fencing and spraying work on a number of farms in the area, but poor weather on the day of the murder saw work cancelled.

A fellow worker who arrived at the address at 5am noticed "the defendant was already drinking Ice beer".

Just after 1.15pm, Ford received a phone call.

"The defendant wanted to know where his smokes were. During the conversation the defendant became angry and started to swear at his partner."

Putai and his partner tried to calm Ford, who then smashed a kitchen window and kicked a box containing their takeaway lunches - a kick that also hit Putai's arm.

Concerned at this behaviour, Putai's partner phoned police at 1.55pm, only for Ford to snatch the phone away.

"Without warning, the defendant turned and punched her to the side of the face."

Putai's partner then took a phone into their bedroom and spoke to a 111 operator, while Ford "turned his attention to Putai ... began to yell at him".

Putai's partner said she could hear swearing and yelling from the lounge, then Ford picked up a detached chainsaw bar and began assaulting Putai.

"After Putai screamed out, 'blows' can be heard on the 111 call. At least 11 blows can be heard after Putai screams out," the summary said.

When Putai's partner entered the lounge again she saw him "slumped on the arm of the couch".

"She could immediately see a lot of blood in front of him ... She put her arms around him briefly, and knew he was not alive."

Ford then struck Putai's partner again, though a police officer had by that point arrived and helped her leave the property where Ford was arrested.

A post-mortem report on Putai found he had suffered "extensive and unsurvivable head injuries".

Ford later "acknowledged hitting the deceased around the head with the chainsaw bar causing his death."

Ford is set to be sentenced on August 27.

By Benn Bathgate

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