Shock guilty plea: Murderer named after surprise guilty pleas in Dunedin

A man used a sledgehammer, cricket bat and knife to murder a Dunedin couple before he set fire to their home, a court has heard.

Wiremu Paul Namana has had name suppression for almost three and a-half years, but he can finally be unmasked as the man who killed David Ian Clarke (49) and Anastasia Margaret Neve (35) at their Wesley St home in 2018.

The 49-year-old entered shock guilty pleas to two counts of murder and one of arson when he appeared before the High Court at Dunedin yesterday for a routine pre-trial hearing.

Court documents were finally released which showed Namana had an intravenous drug addiction that became increasingly severe through 2017.

He was a regular morphine user and had incurred drug debts around Dunedin, Crown prosecutor Robin Bates said.

It was through this that he met Mr Clarke and Ms Neve, “low-level drug dealers” who had occasionally supplied him with illicit substances.

On the morning of January 21, 2018, Namana messaged a friend saying he was “hanging out”, a common phrase describing the onset of withdrawal.

That evening he twice tried to call Ms Neve, without success.

He then contacted a friend, breathing heavily and sounding annoyed, and said he felt like “kicking the door in”.

Shortly afterwards, he entered the Wesley St home and launched a devastating attack on the two residents.

The court heard Namana used a knife, cricket bat and sledgehammer to inflict a harrowing array of injuries, a list of which took up two pages of the summary of facts.

Ms Neve suffered 14 stab wounds as well as several fractures to her head, while Mr Clarke was stabbed in the head and neck so extensively it would have caused “torrential bleeding”.

A post mortem found various fractures, and burns to 80% of his body.

Namana disposed of the weapons and in the early hours of January 22 he returned with petrol which he poured around the victims’ bedroom before setting the fire.

It was only hours before police zeroed in on Namana, after witnesses described hearing his motorbike leaving the house.

Initially the defendant was only willing to admit seeing the couple earlier on the day of their deaths, but his story changed on an almost daily basis as he repeatedly made contradictory statements to police.

On January 27 he told Detective Dave Checketts that he had been inside the property and found Ms Neve with her head “smashed in”.

He claimed he was not responsible and said he was coming clean because he was worried forensic evidence would tie him to the scene.

Eventually, it did more than that.

Officers found Namana’s motorbike pants in a Wesley St backyard.

“Sitting on top of the pants was a piece of the victim Anastasia Neve’s flesh,” the summary said.

The Wesley St flat was eventually demolished after someone set fire to it again in May 2018.

Namana also appeared in the Dunedin District Court yesterday on domestic violence charges, but the Crown offered no evidence and the charges were dismissed.

He was given a first-strike warning under the three-strikes legislation and will be sentenced in August.

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