‘Shall we kill Oliver?’ killer asked

“Shall we kill Oliver?” Heath Eric Morris asked as a group drove to a Woodend property where he would bash his “friend” to death as he slept.

Morris, now aged 19, today admitted the murder of Oliver Johnston whose body was left in a paddock at the Jelfs Road property for a week in June 2018.

Justice Gerald Nation remanded him in custody for sentencing in the High Court at Christchurch on April 12. He asked for a pre-sentence report and victim impact statements.

Mr Johnston was aged 20 when the pair met at a fast food restaurant in Papanui, and then began socialising, and contacting each other by phone and social media.

On Saturday June 23, 2018, they arranged to meet at a party held in a paddock near a forest in Webbs Road, Amberley, that had been organised on Facebook.

They arrived independently about 7pm. From then until 1am, Morris drank 12 Woodstock bourbon and cola pre-mixed drinks.

Morris and one of his associates were involved in a confrontation with other party goers.

Morris, Mr Johnston, and three of their associates then decided to leave the party together, and four went in one car to the Jelfs Road property.

During the trip, Morris said to the associate sitting next to him, “Shall we kill Oliver?” He then said, “Bro, no-one’s going to miss him.” He repeated this about five times.

The group cooked a meal at the house and then went to the sleep-out. Morris and Mr Johnston played a video game together while the others went to sleep on a mattress. Mr Johnston then went to sleep in a sleeping bag.

Crown prosecutor Claire Boshier said: “The defendant has obtained a striking implement with a 30mm round-shaped end and struck the victim multiple times to the left side of his head and face.”

The force of these blows broke Mr Johnston’s skull in several places, and broke his jaw and cheek bone. The injuries were not survivable.

Morris removed the victim’s body and hid it in a paddock where he covered it with soil and grass.

Morris then went back inside and began cleaning up the floor and mattresses using a spray disinfectant and a cloth.

An associate woke and saw the blood. Morris told him he had “cracked Oli on the lip”. He said the victim had been pestering him for a turn on the Xbox, and that a friend had come and picked him up.

Later, he said he had “cracked him twice”.

Morris had breakfast with his family and his associate and then returned to the sleep-out to continue cleaning up the blood.

Mr Johnston suffered blows that broke and fractured bones in his skull, cheek-bone, upper jaw on the left side of his head, and from his eye to his ear. Part of the skull was broken away and found in the hood of his jacket.

Morris told police, “I haven’t done anything”, and declined to give them a formal interview.