Father of slain teen Maaka Hakiwai’s anger at Joshua Horton’s vulgar gesture

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A killer who stabbed a 17-year-old boy in the heart over a $50 cap has been slammed for a vulgar gesture he made after he was cleared of murder.

Joshua Horton was found guilty of manslaughter for stabbing Maaka Hakiwai through the chest and into the heart in a brutal attack in September 2019.

The teenage boy was waiting for a bus with his older brother Nathanial when they were set upon by a group including Horton and two others who wanted to steal the older boy’s Philadelphia 76ers cap.

Grieving father Stirling Hakiwai questioned the jury’s verdict in the Supreme Court of Victoria and labelled the crime as murder at a hearing on Tuesday.

“He was defenceless,” an emotional Mr Hakiwai told the court.

The broken-hearted father said he saw Horton put his middle finger up at a news camera after he was led out from court following the verdict.

“It wasn’t just aimed at the camera – it pointed at us all,” he said of the gesture.

“It was a big F you to us all”

During the hearing he and his wife broke down and sobbed as a memorial video from the teen’s Queensland rugby league club was aired.

The family moved to New Zealand after the horrendous crime so they could be close to where Maaka was buried, they told the court.

Horton also stabbed Nathanial twice through the leg but the boy survived the life-threatening injuries. The 20-year-old stabber was also found guilty of intentionally cause serious injury in relation to this attack.

“You may have stabbed Maaka in the heart, but on that day you stabbed my entire family in the heart,” Nathanial said in a statement on Tuesday.

He said he blamed himself for his brother’s death and that his brother died for nothing.

“I wish I stayed in Queensland, so Maaka wouldn’t have been there that day,” he said.

The pair’s seven-year-old sister also wrote about her brother’s death in a statement, which her father read to the court.

“I miss him chasing me around the house – he called me bubby,” the child said.

A “very, very bad person” killed her brother, she said.

“I remember crying at his funeral because I could never see him again, only in the ground or in the sky.”

Horton, Chol Kur and another male – who cannot be named for legal reasons due to his age – spotted the brothers while they were joy riding with a group of teenage girls.

Kur and the other male approached the pair to steal the cap and when Nathanial refused they attacked the boys. Both males who instigated the attack have pleaded guilty to robbery for their role in the crime.

Horton then jumped out of the car and stabbed Maaka through the chest and knifed his older brother.

His defence lawyer Sam Norton said the life of the now 20-year-old killer was marred by disruption, drug use and violence.

But it was revealed nearly two years after the crime Horton has not apologised for his shocking actions despite claiming that he was remorseful.

“He’s not even able to say ‘I’m incredibly sorry for what I did’,” Justice Andrew Tinney said on Tuesday.

“It’s difficult to see Mr Horton is actually remorseful for what he has done,” he said.

Instead, the killer claims he didn’t remember what happened because he had taken between five and seven Xanax pills that day, the court was told.

“That sounds like a very unrealistic claim by your client – that he has no memory of these events,” the judge said.

Horton was also a high risk of re-offending, his rehabilitation prospects were poor and he needed treatment for his severe personality disorder, the court was told.

The hearing will continue in front of Justice Andrew Tinney.

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