ZB

'I hate you': Brothel murder victim's family address killer at sentencing

Author
Miriam Burrell, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Fri, 10 Dec 2021, 1:23pm
Jiann-Hwa Maa, 61, pleaded guilty to the killing of Zion Gutnik in March 2020. (Photo / Michael Craig)
Jiann-Hwa Maa, 61, pleaded guilty to the killing of Zion Gutnik in March 2020. (Photo / Michael Craig)

'I hate you': Brothel murder victim's family address killer at sentencing

Author
Miriam Burrell, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Fri, 10 Dec 2021, 1:23pm

WARNING: Graphic content 

The mother of a man brutally murdered at an Auckland brothel said his killer valued carpet more than her son's life, before his sentence was handed down today. 

Jiann-Hwa Maa, 61, pleaded guilty to killing Zion Gutnik, 30, at Club 574 on Manukau Rd, Epsom in March last year. 

Maa was sentenced to life imprisonment with a non-parole period of 14-and-a-half years by Justice Ian Gault in the High Court at Auckland this afternoon. 

Gutnik was found dead in a sleepout with 29 separate injuries and his head and upper torso concealed in a black plastic rubbish bag, to prevent blood from staining the carpet. 

"Carpet was more important than human life," Gutnik's mother said in her victim impact statement. 

"Every day for the past 21 months I tried to process that my son is gone. 

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"Every day I try to think about what I cold have done differently to avoid this." 

Maa claimed a fight broke out between him and Gutnik after Gutnik arrived late to a night shift at the brothel. 

The beating Gutnik endured was so brutal that the numbers 0800, imprinted on a wooden pole found at the scene, were embedded on his skull. 

Through a Mandarin interpreter, Maa told the court he had a lot to say but his lawyer advised him he wouldn't have any opportunity to say it. 

He said the court was "not fair". 

His lawyer Kelly-Ann Stoikoff said Maa still had some issues with understanding "exactly what the charge is", but it had been explained to him. 

Gutnik's mother cried as she read her victim impact statement to the court. 

"Mr Maa is a very bad and evil man. 

"I still can't understand why he hated Zion so much to murder him." 

She told the court Maa's guilty plea did not give her any closure, and it was "surreal" that he spoke with such a lack of remorse. 

She said just four days prior to his death the family had celebrated his 30th birthday. 

"He told us he felt very happy for the first time in many years...he was in the process of starting his own business. 

"He wanted to hug me but I did not let him because of coronavirus. If I only knew I was seeing him for the last time." 

Gutnik's sister said her brother's life meant nothing to Maa, and his death has been a "never ending horror story". 

"I hate you for that," she said in court. 

"I hope his ... face will continue to haunt you for the rest of your life and keep you awake at night. 

"I hope the shame you have brought to yourself and your family is never ending. 

"I hope the next time I hear your name, Mr Maa, it's an obituary." 

'I thought he was alive' 

At a hearing earlier this year, Maa claimed Gutnik hit him in the jaw and a fight ensued. 

Maa claimed Gutnik got a stick, and the pair fought in front of the toilet. He said he disarmed Gutnik and hit him with the stick before dropping it. 

"I saw the blood on the ground. He fell down on the ground. I'd never encountered anything like this before." 

Beads from a chandelier had been dislodged and Maa said he put these and other items - including some of Gutnik's teeth - in a black plastic bag. 

"He was breathing at that time. I thought he was alive." 

Maa then dragged his body to a sleepout, and put a rubbish bag over Gutnik's head and closed the door. 

While giving evidence at the hearing in June, Maa started crying and claimed he never meant to kill the man, but only to protect himself. 

At 12.30am on March 10, 2020, police were called to the property and blood was found on a wall in the lounge area. 

During a search, entry was forced into Maa's sleepout. 

"When police staff opened the plastic bag they discovered he had sustained significant head and facial injuries which made a visual identification impossible," a summary of facts said. 

Gutnik had 29 separate injuries and he died over a period of 35 minutes, the summary added. 

Gutnik's blood-stained personal belongings, including a grey bag, a bent umbrella, wallet and several teeth were in a black plastic bag close to his body. 

- Additional reporting by John Weekes