Haami Hanara, 14, has been found guilty of the murder of 40-year-old Kelly Donner, who was found with critical injuries outside a Flaxmere pub in March this year.
The jury took three and a half hours to hand down the verdict.
The teenager had been on trial in the High Court at Napier, charged with the murder of Mr Donner.
The incident happened after Hanara and a group of youths were out on a Sunday night planning to rob a liquor store. The group met Mr Donner, a known rough sleeper, in a service area behind the local pub.
They borrowed a torch from him to try and steal a van.
When Mr Donner asked for his torch back, a fight broke out which spilled into a grassed area outside the tavern. Bottles and concrete were thrown by each party and Mr Donner was even hit with a bicycle.
CCTV footage shown to the court showed Mr Hanara with a knife in his hand before chasing Mr Donner out of shot. The teenager then returns to frame with the knife covered in blood.
Multiple teenagers gave evidence stating that they saw Hanara with the knife that night. With one telling the court she saw Hanara punching Mr Donner in the neck and shoulder area and afterwards said, “I stabbed him – run”.
Hanara testified in the trial and told the court he didn’t remember how he got Mr Donner’s blood on the knife.
Defence lawyer Eric Forster argued in his closing statement the 33 seconds where the 14-year-old cannot be seen in the CCTV is “asking you to fill in the gaps” and said that meant “you can’t record a verdict of guilty beyond reasonable doubt”.
He also told the jury the witnesses weren’t credible as they gave conflicting reports of what happened and one was under the influence of cannabis.
Crown Prosecutor Steve Manning told the jury it’s, “clearly not credible” that the teenager doesn’t remember what happened.
He is the only one with a knife and has admitted to it only being in his hands. Despite the lack of CCTV images of the incident, there are three people who say they saw the defendant attack Mr Donner.
The four other youths involved in the attack have been dealt with by the youth court.
Sad list of young convicted killers
Haami Hanara joins a sad list of very young convicted killers.
Bailey Kurariki was 12 when he was with a group of teenagers who killed Michael Choy. He was convicted of manslaughter when he was 13.
At 14, Lori-lea Te Wini was the younger of two teens sentenced for the murder of John Rowe.
Thirteen-year-old Jordan Nelson shot and killed his caregiver.
Diary owner Arun Kumar was stabbed and killed by a 13-year-old with a 12-year-old also involved. Identities of both were supressed.
As was the killer of 11-year-old Triston Papuni. Shot by his 12-year-old cousin.