A teenage babysitter who murdered a 9-year-old boy, found stabbed to death on his bedroom floor by his mother, has been jailed for at least 11 years.
The babysitter Daniel Cameron, who was 15 at the time, was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of 11 years at the High Court in Invercargill this afternoon.
Cameron, now aged 16, earlier pleaded guilty to one charge of murdering Hunter MacIntosh, 9, on October 30 last year in the small Southland town of Otautau, 40km north-west of Invercargill.
Hunter's distraught mother Amy King, clutching a yellow-framed picture of her precious son, spoke of the devastating effect the murder has had on her.
She wishes that Cameron could be jailed forever, "as he chose to take away our son, our world".
"My reality is that I barely function. Every minute I try to put one foot in front of the other and that hasn't changed since the moment I laid eyes on my poor dead boy," she told the court.
Babysitter Daniel Cameron was sentenced for the murder of 9-year-old Hunter MacIntosh. Photo / Supplied
"My reality is that I was 28 weeks pregnant at the time and the only thing that kept me breathing and eating was our baby."
The trauma of finding her son dead haunts her days and nights.
"People say, 'Try to remember the good times' - I remember finding my son dead - a knife protruding from his stomach, blood around his mouth - him being so pale and knowing that I could do nothing to save him," she said.
"Thinking every minute of every day since about the horrific way that he died, how scared he would've been of Daniel, how painful and scary his last moments were."
She struggles to comprehend that the killer was texting her during the period he murdered her son.
And she hates the killer and says despite his age, he knew what he was doing.
"He is a brutal murderer, his age should have no influence on his sentence, and no sentence will ever compare to the sentence he has given Hunter and us. Life really is a 'no life' sentence for Hunter."
She spoke about Hunter being her life, her world, her reason for living.
Every waking moment was about Hunter and she loved it, the court heard.
"I have no regrets except leaving him that evening. About trusting a friend - trusting that she knew her son - and for that I will never forgive myself."
Justice Dunningham praised King for her "courage" in reading her victim impact statement today.
Hunter's aunty and Godmother Mandy King remembers a "super caring and kind, sensitive" wee boy who had a unique personality "who brightened up the lives of anyone he touched with an everlasting bond to his mum".
She questioned how it's fair that a murderer gets "another chance at life when Hunter's is no more".
A 9-year-old boy was stabbed to death by his teenage babysitter in the Southland town of Otautau on October 30 last year.
Although the thought of Cameron consumes her family with "an extreme amount of hate and anger", she looked at him in the dock and told him: "Today is all about Hunter, it is not about you Daniel and never will be."
"I hate you with all my being and hope that in time you have the mental ability to feel the pain, hurt and circumstances you have brought to us," Mandy King said.
Hunter's grandfather Alistair MacIntosh, who shared a birthday with his beloved grandson, said he feels guilty he couldn't be there for him in his time of need.
"Hunter died afraid and alone at the hands of a monster with no help of hope, only his wee dog Olly to watch it all," he said.
Wondering what Hunter's last moments were like "torments us all and will do forever," said grandmother Sharon King.
"No-one deserves to die like that," she said.
"That poor wee boy alone, all by himself when all our lives we've loved and protected him, how do we live with that?"
Sharon King believes the killing was a cold-blooded murder, saying his conscious and deliberate actions should not be ignored.
The summary of facts says Cameron had been paid to babysit Hunter on at least 10 previous occasions.
His mother had gone out that Wednesday evening about 6pm for a regular social outing.
She texted the babysitter earlier in the evening and at 10.10pm to check if Hunter was asleep.
However, Cameron did not respond.
At about 7.40pm, he'd been seen walking along a street and at 8.20pm sent a Facebook Messenger note to a friend which said "help".
Ten minutes later, Cameron sent a Snapchat message to three friends which said, "What would you do if I killed someone?"
At 8.35pm, he sent a Facebook message to another friend which said, "What would you think of me if I killed someone" and then a second message saying, "straight forward answer".
Sometime before 9pm, he was seen walking south along Riverton Otautau Rd and at 10.30pm, texted his mother to say, "I'm sorry come get me."
When the Amy King returned home at about 10.30pm, she went to check on her son.
She looked in Hunter's bedroom but did not see him in bed.
"She went to turn away from the bedroom, but then stopped and pushed his bedroom door open," the summary says.
She then saw the boy lying on his back on the floor at the foot of the bed. He had a large knife in his stomach and he appeared to be dead.
She ran from the house screaming.
Emergency services rushed to the scene but the boy had been dead for some time.
An autopsy indicated that Hunter had been killed within 90 minutes of being in the care of the babysitter.
He had suffered three large knife wounds to his torso and chest area. He also had marks around his neck that were consistent with asphyxia as well as a moderate head injury.
Cameron arrived home just before 11.30pm and was arrested by police an hour later.