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NZ: Prostitute killer's appeal rejected (Auckland)

Publish Date: 12 Dec 2011
Source: Auckland Now
By: Steve Hopkins

Gordon Hieatt. Photo/Otago Daily Times.

A former Lotto winner who murdered a Thai prostitute then lived with her decomposing body for a month has failed to overturn his conviction and sentence.

In February former computer programmer Gordon Hieatt was sentenced to 11 years' jail at the High Court in Auckland for choking Nuttidar Vaikaew to death in April 2009.

After killing Vaikaew, his then-girlfriend, Hieatt left the 48-year-old decomposing in the lounge of the Auckland flat they shared for a month before their landlord called police.

During his trial Hieatt, 49, admitted killing Vaikaew but argued he did not intend to do so.

It also emerged that he had won $750,000 in Lotto in the 1990s but a series of failed investments had left him bankrupt.

Last month Hieatt argued at the Court of Appeal that the sentencing judge should of allowed the jury to consider a partial defence of provocation and that his minimum period of imprisonment should have been 10 years not 11.

On the night Hieatt murdered Vaikaew the pair fought over rent payments.

The Court of Appeal found that "no ordinary New Zealander" would have "snapped and committed a homicide".

They also found that the minimum period of imprisonment was "not excessive".

At sentencing Justice John Priestley said Hieatt had "serious personality flaws" that he had not been able to overcome despite being an intelligent, well-educated man employed in a high-skilled industry.

He said the murder was caused by Hieatt's "anger and frustration and tendency to blame the victim".

Hieatt had spent his early years living in a "most unsatisfactory environment as a child" with a mother who worked as a prostitute, but, once taken into care, he thrived.

Several months before the murder Hieatt had moved in with Vaikaew, a prostitute known as Sky, in her Western Springs flat.

Vaikaew's landlord, Ray Goffin, became concerned when he had not seen her for nearly a month, so on the afternoon of May 12, 2009, he went to visit her at home.

Hieatt answered the door and said to Goffin: "I am Gordon, Nuttidar's boyfriend. Nuttidar is sick and she has been sick for a few days."

Goffin became suspicious and rang police. When police arrived, Hieatt answered the door and said: "She is dead and has been dead for four weeks. We had an argument and I killed her."

The police officers were greeted by a "indescribable and putrid" smell.

Dead flies and maggots littered the floor.

Vaikaew's body was on a bed in a curtained-off corner of the lounge, covered in blankets with a dressing gown over her head.

Hieatt's stepsister Michele Cavanagh told the court that Hieatt had told her he "loved her [Vaikaew] too much".

"He could not live with her and he could not live without her."

Copyright © 2011 Fairfax New Zealand Limited