Life sentence for killer of
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
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
"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 - Nzherald.co.nz
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
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
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
"I'm disgusted in myself for desecrating his
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
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
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
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
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
Justice Chisholm said Gosnell committed
"extreme brutality, repeated over and over", with a total absence
"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
"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
By Kurt Bayer - Nzherald.co.nz
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
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 -
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
"We hope that the sentence that will be given
to Gavin Gosnell reflects the seriousness of his crime,'' she
"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
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
By Joelle Dally - Stuff.co.nz
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
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
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
"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
Vaux-Phillips, Gosnell's former girlfriend, was
also there and they went to bed.
The following morning, Hayden was gone, he
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
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
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
The following morning, the three flatmates
returned to Eastgate for breakfast about 11.15am, then drove to
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
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
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,"
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
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
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
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.