Trio jailed after assaulting Hawke’s Bay man, leading to death

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Three men will spend about four years in jail after bashing a man and to leaving him to die in Hastings.

Steven Kingi (left), Jessee Burns (centre) and Stewart Hubbard (right of the guard) are heading to jail after pleading guilty to manslaughter and robbery.

Steven Kingi (left), Jessee Burns (centre) and Stewart Hubbard (right of the guard) are heading to jail after pleading guilty to manslaughter and robbery. Photo: RNZ / Tom Kitchin

Steven Matthew Kingi, 40, Stewart Hubbard and Jessee Burns, both 27, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and aggravated robbery in November.

They were sentenced at the High Court in Napier this morning.

In April 2019, they assaulted Filipino national Jermaine Ramos after he did not pay a sex worker for services.

They assaulted him with a glass vase then fled the scene.

Ramos was still alive after the attack, but died later when he did not get medical treatment.

Justice Francis Cooke sentenced Kingi to four years and two months because of his lead role in the assault.

Burns was sentenced to four years in prison, while Hubbard was sentenced to three years and ten months.

On 30 March 2019, Ramos arranged to meet a sex worker, who was an associate of the three men.

He lived in Waipukurau but drove to Hastings and met the woman, where he took her to a motel, agreeing to pay for for sex and methamphetamine.

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The next morning, the woman left the motel in a taxi after an argument with Ramos.

Justice Cooke said she felt disrespected at a request for another sex worker to participate and she had not received payment for her services in full.

Ramos said he would pay the outstanding balance online.

Two days later, she had not received payment so contacted Kingi and spoke about how she could obtain it.

Kingi suggested she lure Ramos back to her home in Akina, Hastings and rob him.

The trio met with the woman, and she told them she did not want violence.

Ramos arrived at her home, after withdrawing $640. He was invited inside and when the woman went into a bedroom to check on her young child, the trio entered the address and assaulted Ramos.

The woman described the scene to authorities later on, as she was behind a closed, blocked door.

“One of you demanded money and told Mr Ramos to shut up,” Justice Cooke told the men.

“Mr Ramos was heard saying ‘please, no, stop, stop stop’. She then heard what she described as banging, crashing, thumping and smashing.”

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Ramos had consumed methamphetamine and had a narrowing of a vessel on his heart.

The pathologist ruled that the death was a combination of all three factors – assault, methamphetamine and the heart condition.

Ramos was about to be married before he died. His fiancé has since died, but the court read out part of a victim impact statement she earlier prepared.

She had been shopping for their wedding when she heard the news.

“Instead, of planning a wedding, she had to plan a funeral. Mr Ramos was buried in his wedding tuxedo,” Justice Cooke said.

Crown prosecutor Clayton Walker read a statement from the fiancé.

“The thing you don’t deserve is to be given an out for the pain and hurt you’ve caused me physically, emotionally, psychologically and financially,” she wrote to the men.

Walker also read an excerpt from a statement by Ramos’ cousin.

”The most painful of all is seeing Jermanie’s physical state in the mortuary. He was unrecognisable because of the swollen face and I was told that is because of the head trauma that he suffered,” the statement read.

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“Upon seeing Jermaine I can only imagine the pain inflicted on him, how cruel and evil the intent of the people who did this to him and I hope that they would realise the extent of the cruelty.”

None of the three men were given a minimum period of imprisonment

The sex worker was sentenced last year for her role in the aggravated robbery.

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