Two guilty of murder, four of manslaughter in death of delivery driver

Aug. 25, 2002

AUCKLAND, New Zealand -- Nearly one year after pizza delivery driver Michael Choy was ambushed, robbed and beaten with a baseball bat in the town of Papakura, a court has convicted six teens in the crime: two of murder, and four of manslaughter.

Choy was 40 when he died in a hospital following the attack.

According to the New Zealand Herald, the group allegedly ordered for pizza delivery at a dimly lit address, where they could attack and rob Choy.

The pair found guilty of murder, Alexander Tokorua Peihopa, 16, and Whatarangi Rawiri, 17, cried as the verdict was read.

Rawiri, who turned 17 the day Choy was attacked, was also charged with aggravated robbery and attempted aggravated robbery. She will be sentenced on Sept. 13, exactly a year after Choy died.

Peihopa, who turned 16 on Monday, was found guilty of murder after already pleading guilty to manslaughter, aggravated robbery and theft. The jury also found him guilty of attempted robbery.

One of those found guilty of manslaughter was 13-year-old Bailey Junior Kurariki, the youngest person ever to be charged with murder in New Zealand.

The other three found guilty of manslaughter and aggravated robbery in the case included Riki Rapira, 16, Joe Edwin Kaukasi, 15, and Phillip Kaukasi, 17.

Choy's mother, Rita Croskery, said she felt for the parents of the convicted children, but criticized those who had shown little care for their children's upbringing.

"Both families have been put through a tremendous amount of grief and anguish by these young people," Croskery said. "I hope something good comes out of it, a lesson to prevent others from getting themselves in this situation."

Bernadette Simmons, Choy's fiancée, said she believed the verdicts were fair, but that Choy, a caregiver at a home for people with mental disabilities, would have been torn over the outcomes.

"He would say, maybe they need loving," said Simmons.

Topics: Crime

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