Auckland man who murdered mother jailed for at least 14 years

A West Auckland man who murdered his mother with a hammer has been jailed for at least 14 years.

Martin Marinovich is on trial at the High Court at Auckland.

Martin Marinovich during an earlier stage of his High Court trial for murder. Photo: RNZ

Martin Marinovich strangled his mother Noeleen before smashing her head with a hammer in their Ōrātia home in February 2019.

The 28-year-old, who was his mother’s sole caregiver, then showered and drove to a nearby train station where he called 111 and told the operator he had killed his mother after an argument.

He was jailed for life with a minimum non-parole period of 14 years in the High Court at Auckland this morning.

At trial, the court heard Marinovich’s mother had bipolar disorder and relied on her son to run the house, fetch her medication and help her around the house.

Marinovich gave evidence in his own defence; telling the jury it was a struggle to run the household on his mother’s sickness benefit.

He said he snapped after arguing with his mother about her wish to go to Queenstown for her 60th birthday; strangling her until she was dead before picking up the hammer.

Marinovich was very clear to specify his mother was dead before he attacked her head but a post mortem found the woman had defensive injuries consistent with a hammer on her hand and forearm.

Family friend Janet Daniel told the jury Marinovich said he could not cope shortly before he attacked his mother with a hammer.

She read her victim impact statement in court today, telling the court Noeleen was left heartbroken when pregnant with her son when his father was sent overseas by the Catholic church.

Daniel said the woman had struggled with her health over the 40 years they had known one another and was in hospital, bruised all over, after several falls just before her death.

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The High Court in Auckland. Photo: Rafael Ben-Ari/Chameleons Eye/ 123rf

Daniel said she believed Noeleen would still be alive if the hospital had not discharged her the day before Marinovich murdered her.

“What has affected me the most is I’m scared when Martin eventually gets out of prison there will be no one there for him.

“He will be alone in this world. He will have no one else in this world. This is the true tragedy of what happened. Two people who truly loved each other, who were devoted to each other, have lost their lives.”

Noeleen’s brother Matthew Marinovich told the court he would be there for Martin on his eventual release from prison.

Matthew said he had been like a father to Martin and had experienced incredible loneliness since his sister’s death.

“We joked she would bring flowers to my grave. Now I do that for her. It’s so hard.”

He said his newphew’s father had a “large hand” in what had happened and Marinovich had suffered more than most as a result of the paternal absence.

Marinovich refused to look at his uncle when he turned to address him directly; saying they’d both lost Noeleen who they dearly loved.

Matthew Marinovich told Justice Walker a lengthy jail term would be a waste of his nephew’s abilities and suggested he be sentenced to home detention.

The court heard the defendant had since been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and was prescribed anti-depressants shortly before the murder.

His defence lawyer Shane Tait said his client had genuine sorrow and remorse for what he had done and had lost not only his freedom, but the person closest to him in his life.

He asked for a sentence of 14 years imprisonment while Crown prosecutor Robin McCoubrey submitted a sentence 17 years imprisonment was appropriate.

Justice Walker found it would be manifestly unjust to impose a 17-year sentence, required by law for particularly violent crimes.

Marinovich had no previous convictions, did not premediate the murder, had expressed genuine remorse and had a mental impairment, she said.

She jailed him for life with a minimum non-parole period of 14 years.

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