As Adbi Awad lay dying from multiple stab wounds on his Hamilton lawn, the words “he killed me” passed his lips.
Yesterday, his nephew, Naji Hashi Mohamed, 28, was sentenced to life imprisonment for murdering his uncle after a drunken argument turned violent.
It was not clear whether “he killed me” were Mr Awad’s last words, but he died on the lawn at his Chamberlain Pl home on the night of November 1, 2011, after Mohamed had stabbed him three times with a knife. Two of the wounds, prosecutor Ross Douch said, were serious enough to be fatal.
Mohamed came to New Zealand as a refugee from Somalia 18 years ago following its civil war, and was taken in by his uncle. Yesterday, he sat in the dock, his head bowed and eyes fixed on his feet, rocking back and forth as Justice Venning talked him through the events leading up to Mr Awad’s murder.
Mohamed had taken two other Somali men to his uncle’s house the day of the murder and asked if they could stay with him. Mr Awad agreed. During the afternoon, tension arose between Mohamed and one of the other men and Mohamed lashed out with a punch.
“Your uncle intervened and asked you to leave. You described your uncle as an ‘a…hole’ who had threatened to kick you out and [you] threatened to kill him,” His Honour said.
“You went home, took a knife and went back there with a plan of doing some harm to him, calling your uncle out of his home to deal to him.
“The other men heard a disturbance outside and a loud moan. You were standing over him.
“Your uncle said ‘he killed me’.”
By then, Mohamed had tucked the knife into his trousers. “You left the scene and disposed of the knife by throwing it away. You asserted it was one of the other Somali men.
“It’s not just an ordinary domestic knife, [it was] a particular type of knife. Your uncle was unarmed.”
Justice Venning acknowledged Mohamed, who had been expelled from school for behavioural problems, had witnessed atrocities in Somalia, including the killing of his mother and other family members when he was 7 .
After coming to New Zealand, aged 10, he was expelled from school and diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as being treated by mental health services.
Mr Douch asked for a sentence of 16 years, given Mohamed’s past record of violence.
His convictions included a previous custodial sentence, in 2007, for stabbing another person. “In hindsight, the appearance today for homicide almost appears inevitable,” he said.
“The intent was to remove him from the sanctity of his home for the purpose of killing him.”
Phil Morgan, QC, for Mohamed, accepted there was a degree of pre-meditation in his client’s actions.
“Over the course of this evening the prisoner did brood on a perceived slight and he returned to his home, got a knife and returned to the deceased’s home. It’s a 15-minute walk . . .
“The Somali community in Hamilton has lost one of their own at the hands of one of their own.”
Mr Morgan handed the court a letter from Mohamed expressing his remorse, and said his client recognised New Zealand was not a place for him to stay.
“At some stage he wants to go back to Africa, and that’s where he wants to live out the rest of his life,” Mr Morgan said.