I forgive her killer, says backpacker's father

Life sentence for teenage New Zealander guilty of killing British tourist
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The Independent Online

The father of a British tourist murdered in New Zealand said yesterday that he felt "sorry" for his daughter's teenage killer, after the 15-year-old was given a life sentence.

Jahche Broughton was sentenced to life imprisonment and ordered to serve at least 12-and-a-half years behind bars for the murder of Karen Aim on 17 January last year.

Ms Aim, 26, from Orkney, was killed as she made her way home from a night out with friends in the popular North Island resort town of Taupo.

Broughton's sentence yesterday in the High Court at Rotorua took into account his age and his guilty plea. The teenager was 14 when he carried out the murder and is believed to be one of the youngest convicted criminals in New Zealand to be given a life sentence.

Outside the court, Ms Aim's father, Brian, said he felt sorry for Broughton. "He has taken away Karen's life, but he has also destroyed his own," said Mr Aim, 52. "If I go down the road of anger and revenge that would only destroy my life."

He added: "I am satisfied with the sentence and I believe justice has been done for Karen. I told the judge that he [Broughton] should never be put in a position where he could harm another human being.

"I would have been so proud to have taken Karen down the aisle in her wedding dress. But because of this boy's moment of madness I took her down the aisle in her coffin." Mr Aim talked to Broughton's mother last Friday but said he did not know if he believed that her son's motive was to get drugs money.

Mr Aim, his wife Peggy and son Allan will return home to the Orkney Islands today after travelling to New Zealand for the sentencing.

Ms Aim was found by police called to investigate a vandalism spree at Taupo Nui a Tia College in January. She was lying semi-conscious in the street and was able to tell police her name before she died in hospital. A post-mortem examination confirmed she died of serious head injuries which detectives believe were inflicted with a weapon.

The court heard that a police search of Broughton's home uncovered a camera similar to Ms Aim's, along with a black handbag in an incinerator and a baseball bat with blood and glass embedded in it under the house.

Broughton told police he spent the night of the killing at home with his grandparents. But his DNA was found on Ms Aim, and CCTV filmed him smashing nearby windows shortly before Ms Aim was attacked.

A trial was averted when Broughton pleaded guilty last month.

Ms Aim had been on her second visit to New Zealand after a three-month stay in 2006 and was working at a glass-blowing gallery. The Dundee University graduate had fallen in love with the North Island resort of Taupo – the town is popular for bungee-jumping and skydiving – telling family and friends "Taupo is the place for me", before returning. Her body arrived back in Orkney in late January 2008, after a 12,000-mile journey by air and sea. At her funeral, a video of her sky-diving was shown to the music of "Free Falling" by Tom Petty.

Justice Graham Lang told Broughton his crime had badly affected Taupo and New Zealand's reputation as a safe tourist destination.