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'Bella was very much loved' — Police highlight sex worker rights as murderer receives 10-year sentence

Police today acknowledged the sentencing of the man who committed what they called the "callous and senseless murder" of Bella Te Pania last year.

Bella Te Pania. Source: Supplied

Kaine Van Hemert killed the 34-year-old mum during a psychotic episode on December 31, 2019. 

Today, Van Hemert he was sentenced to 10 years in prison for his crime.

Police released a statement acknowledging the sentencing and giving tribute to Te Pania.

"Our thoughts are with Bella's whānau and friends today as they come to terms with the decision," Detective Senior Sergeant Nicola Reeves says.

"It is my hope that this result may bring them some closure, but I know it does not bring Bella back or bring an end to the grief of losing her.

"There is sometimes a perception in the community that sex workers won’t be missed, that they don’t deserve the same protections, or that police will not put the same effort into solving crimes committed against them.

"That perception couldn’t be further from the truth," Reeves stated.

"Bella was very much loved. She was a daughter, a sister, a partner, a friend, and a mother to a little girl."

Reeves went on to say Te Pania "like all of us, deserved the opportunity to live a full, happy life".

"Sex work is legitimate work done by real people who have the same rights as the rest of society.

"Sex workers, like all New Zealanders, should be able to go to work and be safe from violence and harm," Reeves said.