Pukeroa whānau "disgusted" as murder-accused walks free

By Talisa Kupenga

The family of Nathan Pukeroa is heartbroken that Dustin La Mont was cleared of murder, manslaughter and grievous bodily harm charges after he stabbed Pukeroa causing his death and severely wounded his friend Devaray Kurvaji in December last year. Criminal Law expert Khylee Quince says the outcome is outrageous and La Mont's case of self-defense shouldn't have been upheld.

The words of a grieving mother seeking justice for her son who was taken far too soon.

Mother Jo-Anne Pukeroa told Te Kāea, "He [Dustin La Mont] had it in for that house and it just so happens that my boy and Devaray were there. It's wrong. I'm angry at the justice system.”

Sister Makayla Pukeroa says, “I've never heard of any other case where someone has been murdered as well as wounding somebody else severely, you know the evidence is there and everything, he's admitted to it and then he gets let off scot-free."

Dustin La Mont stabbed Nathan Pukeroa causing his death and severely wounded his gang associated friend Devaray Kurvaji after becoming frustrated at the noise from a party the pair were attending at an Auckland address last December.

Criminal Law Expert Khylee Quince says, “"Being a white-collar criminal tends to push you out of a prison sentence but being Maori doesn't. There are many problems about how we process Māori as offenders and as accused people but these people were victims, in this case, victims of a Pākehā offender so it seems that they can’t win either way and I think that's a problem."

Quince says La Mont's actions prior to his pre-emptive strike on the pair coupled with statements he provided to police saying he could have "got away" should have squashed the case for self-defence. The victims' families have received no apology.

"Devaray needs justice as well. He's a victim in this as well.He was also stabbed in the neck, you know, luckily he survived but also he watched his best friend die,” says Makayla.

Quince says it is very difficult to revisit and reopen cases based on jury decisions, but Pukeroa's family want to stay strong. Their petition 'Justice for Nathan!' has reached nearly 1500 signatures.

Criminal Law Expert Khylee Quince talks about the problems with La Mont’s claim of self-defence: