An 18-year-old has admitted manslaughter for a Greymouth stabbing incident in which he had been threatened and a lighter held close to his face.
Lewis Floyd McKenzie was aged 17 at the time of the incident in which 41-year-old Cyrus Alexis Alupis was killed.
Justice Rob Osborne remanded McKenzie on electronically monitored bail for sentencing in Christchurch or Greymouth on September 6, after the Crown agreed to accept a plea to manslaughter. Until today, McKenzie had faced a charge of murder.
A decision is still to be made about the venue for the sentencing. The victim’s family do not live in Greymouth, and were watching today’s hearing by video-link from Auckland.
Justice Osborne ordered a pre-sentence report and a psychiatric report on McKenzie.
Crown prosecutor Barnaby Hawes told the court McKenzie and an associate had been driving around the West Coast about 1.15am on July 30, 2018, after smoking several cannabis joints over the previous hours.
They stopped to speak to two men they did not know who were walking on Tainui Street, Greymouth.
One of the men was Mr Alupis. They agreed to give the men a ride to Cobden, across the river that flows through Greymouth, and the pair got in the back of the car.
The two men became agitated because they could not find a bottle of vodka, and when the car pulled over Mr Alupis accused McKenzie of having the vodka and threatened to give him “a hiding”.
Mr Alupis slapped McKenzie in the face and punched the driver twice.
The driver tried to calm things down but Mr Alupis then held a lighter close to McKenzie’s cheek.
McKenzie wasn’t burnt but got a fright and moved to unclip his seatbelt. Mr Alupis told him not to move or he would “smash” him.
McKenzie took a black handled steel knife about 30cm long which was nearby, and quickly got out of the car and moved to the rear passenger door as Mr Alupis pushed open his door to get out.
McKenzie then stabbed him twice and ran off. Mr Alupis fell back into the car. One wound was in the abdomen, and the other penetrated the chest cavity, immediately above the heart, nicking the aorta.
One of the other men drove Mr Alupis towards the hospital but he repeatedly tried to open the door and get out. When he was determined to get out, the man stopped the car on Cowper Street and Mr Alupis fell onto the road and began crawling to the footpath.
The man tried for several minutes to get him back into the car, without success and then drove off, leaving him on the road.
He was found soon after, alive but unconscious. Despite the efforts of medical staff he died soon after in hospital.
About 4.45am, McKenzie approached a staff member at a supermarket saying that he was being chased by gang members. Police were called because he was covered in blood.
A knife was found in a sheath in one of his socks.
Before the plea, McKenzie’s trial had been due to take place on the West Coast in September.