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Man who murdered South Auckland father-to-be jailed for 10 years

A man who shot dead a young father-to-be in South Auckland earlier this year has been jailed for at least 10 years.

Semi Pilitati believed Arthur Brown was associated with gang before shooting him. Source: rnz.co.nz

Semi Pilitati, 21, was sentenced in the High Court at Auckland this afternoon, after earlier pleading guilty to murdering 26-year-old Arthur Brown.

Mr Brown was shot dead outside a block of shops in Māngere in the early hours of 10 March.

Pilitati was arrested and charged 10 days later after police carried out a series of search warrants in South Auckland.

Justice Duffy sentenced him to life imprisonment, with a minimum non-parole period of 10 years.

Mr Brown's wife, Atiliai, wept as she read her victim impact statement to the court, while holding their daughter, Adele, who was born just days after her father's death.

Mrs Brown was on the phone to her husband when he was shot twice at close range.

She said she didn't want to end the call because she was hoping he was still alive.

"It was the most heartbreaking day of my life," Mrs Brown said.

"I was lost, I felt my world had come to an end."

Mrs Brown said she often had sleepless nights and still had flashbacks to the night her husband died, hearing his voice and the gunshots.

Mrs Brown described her husband as loving, loyal and humble.

He was trying to make things right in his life after being released from prison nine months earlier, she said.

Pilitati's actions had made the neighbourhood where she grew up unsafe and people now lived in fear, Mrs Brown said.

She doesn't want to leave the area, but she said she and her daughter must now constantly pass the place where her husband was shot dead.

Other family members, who packed the public gallery of the courtroom, said Mr Brown was excited about the birth of his daughter and Pilitati's act of violence had deprived her of a father as she grew up.

Before the sentence was handed down, Pilitati stood in the dock and addressed the public gallery and Mr Brown's family.

"There is nothing I can say today or do in the future that can undo what has been done," he said.

"I am deeply sorry for taking your loved one away from you - your son, your husband, your father, your brother."

Pilitati said there was no excuse for his actions and that no apology or jail sentence would ever be enough.

"But I pray that one day you may find it in your hearts to forgive me for what I have done," he said.

"I am truly sorry for the pain I have caused. From the bottom of my heart, I am sorry."

Pilitati's defence lawyer Panama Le'au'anae said his client had two children and would live with regret for the rest of his life.

Sentencing Pilitati, Justice Duffy said what happened on the night of Mr Brown's death showed why it was never right to resort to violence.

The court heard that Pilitati had been involved in a road rage incident in December 2018 and members of the Red Army gang had later turned up to his house, smashing windows and leaving him with a head injury.

Pilitati was living in fear and wanted to protect his family. He was also suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Justice Duffy said Mr Brown was wearing red and Pilitati believed he was associated with the gang. He grabbed his shotgun and followed Mr Brown down the street and shot him outside a bakery.

Justice Duffy said Pilitati was truly remorseful for his actions - and it was obvious Mr Brown had a large, loving family who had been profoundly affected by his death.

Pilitati has been issued with a third strike warning.

rnz.co.nz