Murder of his ex girlfriend in Titahi Bay by repeated stabbing in February 2005
Nine previous convictions, including three for violence, one of them against Ms Brown.
The other two were against his former wife
NZ Herald story here
NZ Herald story 10th November 2006
The last few minutes in the life of a woman brutally stabbed to death by her former boyfriend on a Titahi Bay beach would have been horrific, a High Court judge said yesterday. Justice Denis Clifford made his comment as he sentenced 34-year-old Porirua painter Tony Tiumalu to life imprisonment for the murder of Susanna Lemina Brown. Ms Brown died in a parked car at the beach on her 33rd birthday on February 22 last year. She had been arguing with Tiumalu, who could not accept that their relationship was over. Tiumalu took a 14cm boning knife from the back seat of the car and stabbed Ms Brown at least 20 times in front of horrified onlookers, before kissing and embracing her limp body as police arrived.
He denied the murder charge, claiming the crime was manslaughter as he had been provoked by taunts from Ms Brown that she had been seeing other men. A jury in the High Court at Wellington found Tiumalu guilty in September, and yesterday Justice Clifford sentenced him, setting a minimum period of 14 years before he becomes eligible for parole. Wearing a black T-shirt, with his hair pulled back, Tiumalu stood in the dock with his head bowed, staring at the ground and occasionally raising his head to gaze at the ceiling. Quiet crying could frequently be heard from the public gallery packed with family and supporters of both defendant and victim. After the sentencing, Ms Brown's mother, Malia, struggled to keep her composure as she said her family could never forget what Tiumalu had done to her daughter. Ms Brown had five children to an earlier partner, who were aged between 5 and 11 when she died.
The family were disappointed with the sentence, as they had hoped for a minimum non-parole period of 17 years, she said. Crown prosecutor Grant Burston asked Justice Clifford to consider a 17-year non-parole period. Defence lawyer Greg King said Tiumalu had been in a deteriorating state which culminated in the "horrendous display of violence" on Titahi Bay beach that day. "It was a spontaneous, spur of the moment expression of violence by a person who simply could not cope with the situation he found himself in." Immediately after the attack, Tiumalu had spoken of how much he loved Ms Brown, whose initials were tattooed on his hand, Mr King said. The defence of provocation put forward by Tiumalu in the trial was in "no way, shape or form" intended as a criticism of Ms Brown, but rather was to show the state of mind of the accused.
Not one person ever had a bad word to say about Susanna Brown, Mr King said. "Testimonies to her nature and spirit and character consistently and clearly paint a picture of a very worthwhile, decent person, and that adds to the tragedy of her demise." Evidence was given at Tiumalu's trial that he and Ms Brown had been in a relationship for nearly five years when it began to break down at the end of 2004. By January last year, the relationship was over, but the pair continued to see each other intermittently. Tiumalu told the court his relationship with Ms Brown had been "strange", as they frequently broke up and then got back together. Yesterday, Justice Clifford said Tiumalu had nine previous convictions, including three for violence, one of them against Ms Brown. The other two were against his former wife.
In assessing the time he should set as a minimum non-parole period, Justice Clifford acknowledged the difficulty of comparing one murder with another. The most brutal murders, drawing a non-parole period of 17 years, must show a high level of brutality, depravity and callousness. But there was "no such thing as a murder that is not in a very real sense brutal, depraved or callous". The act of killing Ms Brown had a high level of brutality, he said. Her last minutes alive would have been horrific. She was conscious and trying to defend herself. Witnesses heard "chilling, agonised screams" as the two to three-minute attack continued, but Tiumalu was not deterred by her cries for help or attempts by bystanders to prevent the killing. But the attack took place over a short period and, on balance, Justice Clifford said, it was not at the top end of the scale. However, he was not prepared to give Tiumalu the standard 10-year non-parole period.
From the Dominion Post 7th September 2006
Family members of a woman fatally stabbed more than 20 times clapped and cried when a jury at the High Court in Wellington found her ex-lover guilty of her murder. Tony Tiumalu, 34, a painter from Porirua, pleaded not guilty to murdering Susanna Lemina Brown on her 33rd birthday on February 22 last year. Ms Brown died from massive blood loss and multiple stab wounds to the chest and back that perforated her heart. She was also cut about the hands and arms, described as defence wounds, as she sat in the driver's seat of a parked car. During his trial, Tiumalu told the court his relationship with Ms Brown had always been strange and the couple broke up frequently. Ms Brown would choose to see him or not depending on her moods, he said. On the day of the killing he went to Ms Brown's house with flowers for her birthday then the pair went for a drive to Titahi Bay beach.
Tiumalu said Ms Brown had broken up with him a number of weeks earlier and was again telling him the relationship was over. He said she was taunting him by telling him about the other men she was seeing, including Tiumalu's neighbour; her ex-partner - the father of her five children; and a new man. Tiumalu said he lost his cool, remembered a knife that was in the back of his car, grabbed it, and "did what I did". He told the court he then stabbed himself three times but threw the knife out the car window when he realised he had bent it. Crown prosecutor Grant Burston said the offence was murder because the knife attack was planned. Tiumalu was a spurned, jealous lover who killed Ms Brown because he knew he was never going to get her back. Tiumalu's lawyer Greg King argued his client had temporarily lost his power of self control and had a partial defence of provocation.
Mr King said this meant Tiumalu was guilty of manslaughter, but not murder. The jury deliberated for more than nine hours before reaching their decision. Ms Brown's mother Malia Brown said the truth had come out. She said when she heard the verdict she was so happy it felt like she was flying. Mrs Brown said she does not want to even see Tiumalu, but asks God every day to forgive him. She said now her daughter could have some peace. Officer in charge of the case Detective Sergeant Mark Buttar said he was very pleased with the verdict, particularly for Ms Brown's family. "The last 18 months have been really taxing and harrowing on the family and it's come to the crescendo for the trial." Ms Brown's parents had also had the added stress of giving evidence, Mr Buttar said. He said the huge tragedy of the case was Ms Brown's five children who would now have to go through life without having their mother present. Justice Denis Clifford remanded Tiumalu in custody for sentencing on November 9.
Date of Birth
Sentenced to life imprisonment with a 14 year non-parole period in November 2006
Earliest parole date March 2019
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OFFENCES / CONVICTIONS
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