Andrei Chumko / Staff
Michael Huatta murder site in Mohaca, Hawkes Bay.
A Wairwa man was sentenced to life in prison for killing another man when he was shot in the face at close range.
Ben Lambert, 22, was sentenced in the Supreme Court in Gisborne on Friday for the murder of Michael Huatta in June last year.
Judge Robert Dobson has sentenced Lambert to life in prison with a minimum term of 10 years unconditional.
Huata, 29, a father of five, was shot in the face of Lambert, who was standing a few steps away when he pulled the trigger of a severed rifle, on the evening of June 18.
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Lambert was due to appear on trial for the murder last month, but pleaded guilty the day the trial was due to begin.
The confrontation between Lambert and Huata took place in Mohaca, South Wairowa. It was the culmination of several days of conflict, battles, threats and alleged thefts, between Lambert and others living in the Mohaca and Rapunga regions.
On the evening of the murder day, Lambert drove to a house from Mohaca armed with a severed semi-automatic rifle. Take a position that allows him to see the house inside which was a man who wanted to confront him.
Watch as Huata arrives in a car with another occupant.
Huata came to the address because he was concerned about accidents during the previous days and was concerned about the safety of three children in the house.
At some point in the evening, when darkness fell, Huatta left the house and climbed a small fence to go to the neighbors’ property.
While doing so, Lambert turns to the show and asks Huata to go home and get the man he wants to confront.
Huatta did not reply and continued to move towards Lambert. Both men were members of the Black Power Gang and had known each other for a long time.
Lambert raised the firearm and asked Huata to get the man. Huatta paused, fell silent, and continued walking toward Lambert.
Lambert raised the barrel and pointed to Huata, saying, “I haven’t … about n …..”.
Both men could see each other’s eyes.
Lambert later said, “I saw fear in people’s eyes, and when I looked in his eyes for the last time … I never saw that look in his eyes. He was not afraid.”
Lambert took a deep breath, raised the barrel and said, “Oh and … my gang,” then squeezed the trigger.
He was 1.5 meters from Huata, who was badly injured in the lower face and neck.
Huata, who was not armed, was taken to Wairwa Hospital but succumbed to his wounds.
Then Lambert turned away. About 10 kilometers north of Mohaca, he drove into a secluded area and left the car. He walked across farmland, dropped a firearm into a stream, and then walked along a railroad to his home.
Lambert was identified early on as a suspect but there was no direct evidence linking him to the crime at the time.
Later, he met the police and told them that he had shot. The firearm was found in the stream.