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Dimetrius Pairama murder: Teenager found unfit to stand trial has to wait to learn where she’ll be held

Dimetrius Pairama murder: Teenager found unfit to stand trial has to wait to learn where she'll be held


The teenager said to have taken part in the kidnapping, torture and killing of a fellow teen in an abandoned state house will have to wait to learn where she will be held.

Now aged 18, the woman was found unfit to stand trial with her fellow co-accused Toko (Ashley) Shane Winter and Kerry Te Amo in September 2019.

Te Amo and Winter admitted charges of kidnapping 17-year-old Dimetrius Pairama and were later found guilty of her murder at a jury trial.

Dimetrius’ body was found in a barrel in the backyard of a Māngere Housing New Zealand home in July, 2018.

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Kerry Te Amo at his trial in the High Court at Auckland.

David White/ Stuff

Kerry Te Amo at his trial in the High Court at Auckland.

Te Amo and Winter are due to be sentenced on May 26.

On Wednesday Justice Timothy Brewer heard from two mental health experts to determine where the teenager should be sent to.

She has a mild intellectual disability with an IQ of 60, well below the average of 100. She also has fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

Toko (Ashley) Shane Winter at her trial in the High Court at Auckland.

David White/ Stuff

Toko (Ashley) Shane Winter at her trial in the High Court at Auckland.

The teenager’s lawyers argued she could be cared for at the Mason Clinic before transfering to another facility but the Crown is asking for her to be remanded as a special patient.

The special patient status would see her more closely managed in a secure facility and ensure she was no longer a threat to the community before being released.

Psychologist Amanda McFadden interviewed the teenager four times and read her patient notes and Oranga Tamariki file.

She said the teenager had an unstable home life, was homeless for a time and working as a sex worker.

“She felt at home on the street…. People who she came into contact with were her street family.”

She had also seen her mother being beaten.

The High Court in Auckland where mental health experts gave evidence on the teenager and where she should be held

SIMON MAUDE/Stuff

The High Court in Auckland where mental health experts gave evidence on the teenager and where she should be held

At one point the teenager wiped tears from her eyes and asked for an early break.

During her time in the secure Mason Clinic she had become angry with the nurses, telling others she wanted to “smash them” because they were talking about her behind her back.

McFadden said that showed the teenager had issues with her anger

She said the teenager had been in a relationship with Te Amo but felt uncomfortable talking about the killing.

McFadden said the teenager told her the offending was “unexpected” and that she wouldn’t do it again. She quoted the teenager as telling her “it wasn’t the real me and I’ve learned my lesson. I shouldn’t do these things and do drugs and I just want to go home.”

McFadden said she was concerned that if the teenager was remanded as simply a patient, she may be released into the community a lot earlier and still pose a risk.

World renowned expert in fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, Dr Valerie McGinn told the court the teenager should remain in the Mason Clinic for a further year before being released one day into community care.

“I don’t see that detaining a disabled young person for 10 years is going to see her become a functioning member of society.”

Justice Brewer asked the doctor about the risk she posed.

“As I understand your evidence, so long as she is kept away from bad company, she won’t kidnap, torture and murder again. So if she does fall into bad company, what’s the risk?” the judge asked.

Later in her evidence, Dr McGinn said the teenager needed a stable environment and support, essentially away from bad company.

Justice Brewer has reserved his decision.

The mother of murdered teenager Demetrius Pairama, Lena Hetaraka Pairama was heart-broken at losing her daughter.

Chris Skelton/STUFF

The mother of murdered teenager Demetrius Pairama, Lena Hetaraka Pairama was heart-broken at losing her daughter.

During Te Amo and Winter’s trial it was revealed that the teenager was said to have told a friend she wanted Dimetrius dead, a month before her murder.

The conversation was said to have happened on a Manurewa street as the pair walked to the local bottle shop.

“…The next thing she told me was that she wanted to kill someone. She said: ‘There’s this b…., she’s like a handicap, she’s only my age. I really f…ing hate her. She slept with my boyfriend. Her name is Dimetrius’.”

The friend said the conversation left her “shocked and freaked out” and she attempted to persuade the teenager not to carry out the killing.

 “She just kept going on about how she hates this girl and how she wouldn’t care if she went to jail for killing her but would think it was a good thing because she’d got justice… I think she was jealous of this girl called Dimetrius.”

During the trial there was evidence from the Crown’s key witness that it was the teenager who had used an aerosol can and a cigarette lighter as a makeshift flame-thrower to burn Dimetrius while she was tied to a chair.

The Crown also said the now-18 year old took part in beating Dimetrius, and was in the hallway of the house where Dimetrius was hanged. 

Her ability to instruct a lawyer and understand the court process was the subject of a pre-trial hearing in the High Court, the week before the trial was due to get underway.

The Crown argued that despite her issues, the teenager could stand trial.

Prosecutors said she would be able to follow the evidence with regular breaks and the help of a communications assistant who could break down complex language for her.

They proposed the unusual step of making it possible for her to watch the trial in a separate room, via closed circuit television.

Despite the teenager having the vocabulary and communications skills of a child, two of the three mental health experts found she would be fit to stand trial, provided the court made the allowances.

In his ruling, Justice Mathew Downs said the teenager’s explanations implied she had an “adequate comprehension” of the trial process.

“I acknowledge these responses are not sophisticated. However, the law does not require they be.” 

The teenager’s lawyer Maria Pecotic took the case to the Court of Appeal who found her unfit to stand trial.

The higher court said the murder trial, that included a cut-throat defence, would be too complex for the teenager to follow and participate.

“We considered that, realistically, it would be beyond her capability to appreciate the implications of evidence she was hearing in order to instruct counsel. We had no confidence that she could make an assessment of the competing factors necessary to decide whether to testify.

“We were not satisfied that, even with the support of communication assistant and supervision of questions by the Judge, [she] could give a sufficiently coherent account and respond to questioning to be able to testify.”