© New Zealand Broadcasting School 2021

Minimum of 13-and-a-half years for 19 year-old murderer

Steven Walton

A 19 year-old man has been sentenced to life in prison with a minimum non-parole period of 13 years and six months for murdering a teenager in June, 2018.

19-year-old Heath Morris will stay behind bars for 13-and-a-half years before he's eligible for parole.

Heath Eric Morris was sentenced by Justice Rachel Dunningham in the Christchurch High Court on Friday for murdering 20-year-old Oliver Johnston. 

Four victim impact statements were read to the court by members of Johnston's family. 

They spoke of Oliver's adventurous and friendly nature, as well as his musical talents.

He was a keen saxophone player and a self-taught pianist, family said.  

One family member said Oliver "will be sadly missed by many people" while another said they missed him "more than words can express". 

One family member was utterly heartbroken they could never hug Oliver again. 

When sentencing Morris, Justice Dunningham took into account his youth and mental health issues. 

Defence lawyer James Rapley QC spoke on behalf of Morris and said the 19-year-old was sorry for causing such extreme harm and loss.