Teenage killer Haami Hanara becomes a test case for young defendants’ fitness to stand trial

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Teenage killer Haami Hanara becomes a test case for young defendants’ fitness to stand trial


An appeal hearing for a Hawke’s Bay teenager found guilty of murdering a homeless man has raised broader issues to do with fitness to stand trial and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

Haami Hanara was 14 when he was alleged to have murdered Kelly Donner, 40, in Flaxmere, Hastings, in March 2018. A jury found him guilty and he had turned 15 by the time he was sentenced in the High Court at Napier in February 2019 to serve at least 10 years of a life jail term.

Donner was stabbed four times.

Hanara appealed against his conviction and a three-day hearing began at the Court of Appeal in Wellington on Tuesday.

READ MORE:
* How teenage killer Haami Hanara escaped custody
* Father of teen murderer Haami Hanara admits hiding him from police after killing
* 15-year-old murderer Haami Hanara sentenced to life in jail for killing Kelly Donner
* Jury finds 14-year-old boy guilty of murder of Kelly Donner in Hawke’s Bay
* The fateful late night meeting that led to Flaxmere’s friendly drifter dying in a pool of blood

His lawyer Ron Mansfield, QC, said the Court of Appeal would be asked to find Hanara was unfit to stand trial due to brain damage.

The three judges heard first from psychologist Dr Duncan Thomson who had interviewed Hanara before his trial when he was 14 and updated his report more recently.

Hanara’s experience of education had been very poor but test results improved with medication for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Thomson said. He agreed he saw Hanara in a one-on-one interview without the distractions of a classroom.

Hanara had been exposed to alcohol and methamphetamine before birth but the features of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder were not exclusive to that diagnosis, he said.

Haami Hanara, aged 14, on trial for murdering Kelly Donner in Napier. (File photo)

John Cowpland/Alphapix

Haami Hanara, aged 14, on trial for murdering Kelly Donner in Napier. (File photo)

Hanara had an existing diagnosis of intellectual disability but Thomson also thought he showed skills needed to be thought fit to stand trial.

Mansfield asked on Tuesday about Hanara’s evidence at the trial, describing the evidence as a “train wreck”. He retracted the description, and instead suggested Hanara did not act in the best way to ensure a good outcome in his trial.

Thomson agreed Hanara did not give evidence in line with the initial strategy that Donner was stabbed accidentally. Instead, Hanara said he did not stab him.

However, Thomson said Hanara was able to comprehend, assimilate and respond while giving evidence.

Kelly Donner was described as a friendly homeless man. (File photo)

SUPPLIED

Kelly Donner was described as a friendly homeless man. (File photo)

Thomson was the first of several mental health experts the court is due to hear. Specialist legal and medical bodies, such as the New Zealand College of Clinical Psychologists and the Law Society, were due to make submissions, along with lawyers for Hanara and the Crown.

The victim, Donner, was a local identity, well-known, friendly and homeless.

After 10pm on March 4, 2018, he was behind a tavern picking up cigarette butts.

Hanara and some friends were planning to break into a chiller in the enclosed yard behind the tavern. They thought they would find alcohol, but instead came across Donner, the court heard.

The site where Kelly Donner, 40, was killed on the night of March 3, 2018. (File photo)

MARTY SHARPE/Stuff

The site where Kelly Donner, 40, was killed on the night of March 3, 2018. (File photo)

Donner allowed the group to use his torch, but they would not return it when asked.

A disagreement became a melee, with the teenagers and Donner throwing empty bottles at each other. The fight spilled out of the yard and onto a well-lit area with security camera coverage.

Hanara’s figure could be seen at the edge of the lighted area. He followed Donner.

It was then, the Crown said, that Hanara stabbed Donner four times and the rest of the group joined Hanara in beating and kicking Donner as he was on the ground.



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