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Gavin John GOSNELL





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Dismemberment
Number of victims: 1
Date of murders: August 22, 2011
Date of arrest: December 13, 2011
Date of birth: 1985
Victims profile: Hayden Miles, 15
Method of murder: Beating
Location: Christchurch, Canterbury Region, South Island, New Zealand
Status: Sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum of 18 years in jail on June 5, 2013
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Life sentence for killer of Christchurch teenager

June 5, 2013

The man who killed a teenager and buried his remains in different cemeteries has been sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum of 18 years in jail.

Gavin Gosnell was sentenced at the High Court in Christchurch on Wednesday after being found guilty by a jury in April of the murder of 15-year-old Hayden Miles.

The 28-year-old admitted attacking the boy at his Christchurch home in August 2011, but denied murder, saying he didn't mean to kill him.

During his trial, the jury heard that Gosnell had inflicted a prolonged attack on the boy and used a saw to remove his limbs. The remains were not discovered until December 2011 at two cemeteries in Christchurch.

In sentencing, Justice Chisholm said Gosnell set out to be cruel and described the attack as extreme brutality. "It is difficult to believe that there are people amongst us capable of such a macabre and evil deed."

In her victim statement, Jacqueline Miles told the court she is constantly tormented by what happened to her son.

"To find out that Hayden had been murdered and dismembered brought me to my knees. A part of me died that day too. I was sick to my stomach; it made me vomit every day.

"The inhumane way of how Hayden was murdered, along with the hiding of his remains, is the most horrific, evil thing anyone could do to another human being - and Gosnell did this to my Hayden."

In a surprise move, Gosnell dismissed his lawyer and made his own statement, insisting that he isn't a murderer and saying he wants to appeal against his conviction.

Speaking outside the court, Hayden Miles' aunt, Sandy Ward, said no sentence would ever be enough for the inhumane way he died and that a life sentence should mean life in prison.

But other family members say the sentence is appropriate. Speaking for Hayden's father's side of the family, lawyer Andrew Riches said they are satisfied with the term imposed.

"The family are quite relieved that the judge took the time to take into account the callousness in which Hayden was treated. In particular, they feel that an 18-year non-parole period is quite appropriate.

"They're extremely relieved that this is now the end of the process and that they can rest assured that Gavin's not going to have any ability to harm another person for quite some time to come."


Killer Gavin Gosnell gets 18 years, vows to appeal

By Kurt Bayer -

June 5, 2013

Gavin Gosnell has been jailed for life - with a minimum parole period of 18 years - for the brutal murder and dismemberment of Christchurch schoolboy Hayden Miles - but has vowed to appeal his conviction.

Gosnell, 28, was found guilty of murder in a unanimous decision after a harrowing High Court trial in April which was halted when a jury member began sobbing over grisly dismemberment evidence.

He admitted killing 15-year-old Hayden after a prolonged assault at a Cashel St flat on August 22, 2011.

The unemployed drifter then cut the schoolboy into 12 pieces with a $20 jigsaw and dumped his remains in two city graveyards.

Hayden's organs were buried in the backyard.

Gosnell denied murderous intent, and asked to be convicted of manslaughter.

He also previously pleaded guilty to a charge of offering an indignity to a human body.

Today, Gosnell told the High Court in Christchurch that he would be appealing his conviction, saying he's not a killer and believes he can prove it.

"I'm not a murderer and I didn't murder Hayden Miles," he said, while apologising to the Miles family for raising the possibility of putting them through a re-trial.

"I made a wrong decision that night and the following morning, and I'll have to live with that for the rest of my life.

"I'm disgusted in myself for desecrating his body."

The court heard how he snapped when Hayden said Gosnell's then girlfriend, Nicolette Vaux-Phillips, was using him and didn't like him.

Vaux-Phillips witnessed the attack, and was sentenced last year to 12 months of home detention after admitting being an accessory after the fact to culpable homicide.

Evidence came from Vaux-Phillips as well as from Hayden's mother, Jacqueline Miles, police officers, forensic experts, and friends of Gosnell who saw the dead teen's body the next day.

There was a packed public gallery in court today to hear how long Gosnell would be jailed for, including Miles family members and friends, as well as some of the jurors who sat through the evidence.

It has been 652 days since grieving mum Jacqui Miles last saw her son, and ever since has been "living a nightmare that I can't wake up from".

"I'll never get to see Hayden grow up and become a man. I feel so robbed. My family is forever broken," she told the court in an emotional victim impact statement today.

She has been tormented by visions of her son's "gruesome and evil murder", which has her vomiting every day with the thought of how he died, she said.

For the last 18 months, Mrs Miles has been seeing a therapist, suffers panic attacks - as does Hayden's 20-year-old sister Alecia - and has depression.

"No sentence could ever be enough to compensate for Hayden's death. We have to live with these images," Mrs Miles said.

Alecia told Gosnell that she doesn't want to waste energy on hating him, that he will "always be a nobody, and will be forgotten".

Hayden's father Peter said he had been left "heartbroken" and living with an "indescribable pain", adding: "I wish with all my heart I could have taken Hayden's place that night."

The family found media coverage of the murder inquiry, and later trial, "extremely sensational and distressing", and they criticised the justice system for the pressures it put on them.

Before sentencing, Gosnell told Justice Lester Chisholm that he wanted to sack his defence counsel Craig Ruane, who represented him at trial, and that he also wanted to adjourn sentencing so he could appeal his conviction.

Justice Chisholm said it was his right to do so, but appointed Mr Ruane as an amicus to help the court continue with today's sentencing.

In sentencing Gosnell to a minimum non-parole period of 18 years, Justice Chisholm admitted that Gosnell had led a "difficult life", having been estranged from his family.

He has 60 previous criminal convictions, and spent much of the last 14 years in jail for what the judge called mostly "low level violence", including convictions for assault and domestic violence.

Justice Chisholm said Gosnell committed "extreme brutality, repeated over and over", with a total absence of mercy.

"You set out to be cruel. These were the actions of a bully in the ultimate extreme," he said.

The desecration of Hayden's body was "quite beyond belief", he said, highlighting the enormous impact it has had on family and friends.

Outside court, mum Jacqui Miles' sister Sandy spoke on behalf of the family to say how relieved they are the court process is now over.

"But no sentence would ever be enough for the inhumane, disturbing and cruel way in which Hayden's life was taken by the murderer.

"We are really thankful the judge has given as much as he can, but we believe that life should mean life in prison.

"Our family can now concentrate on rebuilding our shattered lives to some sort of normality and focus on the loving memories we have of our Hayden."


Guilty verdict in schoolboy murder case

By Kurt Bayer -

April 16, 2013

Gavin Gosnell was facing a long spell behind bars, whether the jury found him guilty of murder or manslaughter, after bashing and cutting up Christchurch teen Hayden Miles.

But today's guilty murder verdict, reached after a disturbing and harrowing trial that brought one juror to tears, was the only positive outcome for the Miles family.

"We will never come to terms with the extreme violence and cruelty that Hayden suffered at Gavin's hands, nor the extreme disrespect he showed in dismembering and concealing his body,'' a family statement said afterwards.

Gosnell, 28, admitted killing 15-year-old Hayden after a savage, prolonged assault at his Cashel St flat on August 22, 2011.

He then sawed the schoolboy into 12 pieces with a $20 jigsaw and dumped his remains in two city graveyards. Hayden's organs were buried in the backyard.

Gosnell, who previously pleaded guilty to a charge of offering an indignity to a human body, denied murderous intent, and wanted to be convicted of manslaughter.

Hayden's friends and family in the public gallery gasped, clapped and sobbed `Yes', when the guilty of murder verdict was read out.

Gosnell, as he had throughout the trial, kept his head bowed low in the dock, clutching a tan sweatshirt.

In a trial, which was halted on Friday after a jury began sobbing over grisly dismemberment evidence, Gosnell admitted the teen died at his hands.

The court heard how Gosnell snapped when Hayden told him his then girlfriend, Nicolette Vaux-Phillips, was using him and didn't like him.

He laughed as he punched and kicked Hayden as the schoolboy cried and begged him to stop.

The attack paused three or four times while Gosnell made Hayden shower and clean up his bloody wounds, before launching into him again.

It only stopped when Hayden began "breathing funny'' and he was showered, stripped naked, and dumped on a two-man couch.

The next morning, he was dead - probably dying of brain injuries - and Gosnell began covering his tracks in the most gruesome way imaginable.

Defence counsel Craig Ruane said it was a brutal assault that "went too far''.

But the jury - and the Miles family - disagreed.

The family said they wanted to remember Hayden as the "gentle, caring, funny, and creative young boy'', and not what happened to him "on that horrific night''.

Outside court, Hayden's aunty Sandy Ward read out a statement that spoke of the family's relief that the trial was over and Gosnell had been found guilty of murder.

The family also thanked the jury for its decision, knowing that the trial would have been "emotionally very difficult''.

"We hope that the sentence that will be given to Gavin Gosnell reflects the seriousness of his crime,'' she said.

"This last 17 months have been horrific for our family, and we find it incredibly hard to put in words how this has affected us.''

"He loved his family and his family loved him very much. We miss him every day,'' she said.

His mum, Jacqueline Miles, supported by Mrs Ward, said she loved her son, missed him every day.

"He's in my heart,'' she managed to say through tears.

Hayden's father's family said they will never come to terms with the extreme violence and cruelty that Hayden suffered at Gosnell's hands.

"Gavin Gosnell preyed upon a vulnerable member of society,'' a statement said.

"His actions following the murder were based on self-preservation rather than any sense of remorse or empathy.

"Society needs to be protected from such a callous and inhumane individual. Hayden was just a boy.''

Gosnell will be sentenced on June 5.


Accused believed teen was 'love rival'

By Joelle Dally -

April 11, 2013

Murder-accused Gavin Gosnell told police he believed Christchurch teenager Hayden Miles had romantic feelings for his partner, Nicolette Vaux-Phillips.

A High Court trial is being played a series of filmed police interviews with Gosnell in late 2011.

Gosnell, 28, is accused of murdering 15-year-old Hayden at Gosnell's Cashel St flat on or about August 22, 2011. His defence is that the boy's death was manslaughter.

The first video interview was on November 7, 2011, followed by a second interview on December 11, 2011.

Detective James Haigh questioned Gosnell about Hayden and his disappearance.

Gosnell said he recalled meeting Hayden only twice.

He said the first time was at a bus stop outside a supermarket.

The second occasion was a few weeks later when Hayden had turned up drunk, and apparently beaten, at his flat.

He had heard a noise one night after dark and went out to find Hayden by the garage.

He described Hayden as being so intoxicated that he was slurring his words and could not explain what had happened.

Gosnell said he had believed Hayden was gay, citing the way he flicked his head - demonstrating the way one would flick hair out of the eyes.

However, after police officers told him Hayden had written love letters to Vaux-Phillips, he now assumed it was for "fessing up his love for Nicolette".

Gosnell said Vaux-Phillips also thought Hayden was gay and had not received letters from him.

"From what I understand, he had a bit of a thing for her. That's what I reckon he turned up for, bro,'' he said.

"He must have come over to say, 'I love you'."

Gosnell told Haigh he invited Hayden inside the flat, helped him have a shower and put him on the couch to "crash".

Vaux-Phillips, Gosnell's former girlfriend, was also there and they went to bed.

The following morning, Hayden was gone, he said.

Gosnell said he was annoyed that he had to "clean up his mess" - blood on the couch, doorframe and light switch, "like he'd grabbed it".

He said there was not much blood but enough for someone to say, "What's going on here?"

He was also annoyed that Hayden had left without thanking him for his help.

In Vaux-Phillips' evidence this week, she said Gosnell told her that if police asked what happened to Hayden on the night he died, she was to say he turned up at the flat drunk and looking beaten, he slept on the couch and was gone the next day.

If she told the truth, he told her she would "be with Hayden".

Accused 'had blood on hands, arms'

Gosnell had blood on his hands and arms when friends arrived at his Christchurch flat the morning after he brutally bashed Christchurch teenager Hayden Miles, the court was told earlier today.

He told them he had "given someone a hiding" the previous night and found him dead on the couch, so he was "cutting him up and was going to bury him around Christchurch".

He repeatedly beat Hayden, left him overnight on a couch, and then on finding him dead the next day, dismembered his body into 12 parts and buried the remains in two cemetery graves.

Two women, who have interim name suppression and gave evidence by video link, lived together in New Brighton with a man at the time Hayden died.

The three of them visited Gosnell regularly.

The first woman to give evidence said she was with her male flatmate on August 22 and saw him allegedly assault and rob a boy outside the Eastgate Shopping Centre.

He allegedly punched the boy once and took a cask of wine, the boy's cellphone and iPod.

Gosnell and his then girlfriend, Nicolette Vaux-Phillips, were in the mall car park at the time and joined her and the male flatmate in the car after the alleged robbery.

She said Gosnell was "not impressed" and asked for the boy's belongings back. He was given the cellphone.

The court heard earlier that the boy was Hayden.

The following morning, the three flatmates returned to Eastgate for breakfast about 11.15am, then drove to Gosnell's flat.

Finding the door locked, one woman went around the side of the flat. She found the broken lounge window tied shut, with the curtains drawn.

The other woman said Gosnell came out the front door after she and the man had been "calling out" for up to five minutes.

She noticed a "black plastic thing" on the floor inside the flat as he came out and shut the door behind him.

She said Gosnell was topless and had blood on his hands and arms.

The entire time she could hear a consistent and loud noise similar to that of a vacuum cleaner, but could not be sure what it was.

"[Gosnell] said he had a fight and someone was dead on his couch," she said.

"He said he was cutting him up;  that he was cutting him up and was going to bury him around Christchurch."

She said she "freaked out".

Gosnell told them he did not want them involved, and when her friend returned to the front of the flat, the three drove home.

Defence counsel Craig Ruane asked the woman if she stood by an earlier statement to police where she said: "[Gosnell] said he had given someone a hiding the previous night and he woke up in the morning and found the person on the couch dead."

She said she did.

Asked whether Gosnell appeared to be "boasting or proud of what he had done", she said: "No, he wasn't."

Gosnell appeared upset. "It just wasn't him," she said.

A man accused of robbing Hayden is before the courts and has name suppression.


Hayden Miles accused 'fantasized about murder', court told

April 10, 2013

The man accused of killing Christchurch teen Hayden Miles often fantasized about raping, torturing and killing people, a court was told today.

Gavin Gosnell, 27, denies murdering 15-year-old Miles at a Cashel St property in August 2011.

The High Court in Christchurch has heard that Gosnell beat Miles for a long period of time before showering him and putting him on a couch in his flat on August 22.

It is alleged that finding him dead on the morning of August 23, Gosnell cut Miles' body into pieces and buried the remains in Ruru Lawn Cemetery in Linwood.

A former friend of Gosnell's, who has name suppression, described to the court how Gosnell would fantasize about raping, torturing and killing people on numerous occasions while watching television shows.

"At first it was that he wanted to go out driving and pick someone off a highway that was hitch-hiking and bring them back to the house and rape and torture them, and then, when they were dead  he would chop them up and bury them," the court was told.

The witness also told the court that accused had wanted to target someone who was not going to be missed by their family "like a child in CYFS (Child, Youth and Family)".

The acquaintance said the accused also fantasized about being in a "Bonnie and Clyde" type relationship.

Defence Counsel Craig Ruane said the comments made by Gosnell were made when he was watching television shows like Criminal Minds, and were just a critique of what they were doing. 

Miles was 'covered in blood'

Earlier the court heard from a man who said he was called to the flat on August 23 because Gosnell was panicking.

When he entered the house, the witness, whose name is suppressed, said he checked to see if Miles was alive.

"[Miles] was covered in blood and had been smashed".

The man said he still could not get the image of Hayden's beaten body out of his mind.

The altercation was a drunken fight which had got out of control, the witness understood.

He said to Gosnell: "You need to tell [police] what you told me."

Yesterday, a former girlfriend of Gosnell told the court she did not know whether the accused had intended to kill Miles.

Gosnell's defence lawyer said his client had admitted to beating the teenager, but the question was whether he intended to kill Miles, and therefore whether he was guilty of manslaughter or murder.

Ruane said: "He carried out the long assault but he didn't intend to kill him."

The trial is expected to last three weeks, in which sixteen witnesses are expected to be called.



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