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Friday, December 18, 2009

Youth now an aggravating factor?

NZPA

Opotiki teenagers Courtney Churchward and Lori-Lea Waiora Te Wini have been sentenced to life imprisonment with a 17-year minimum non-parole period for murdering retired school teacher John Rowe in his bed on November 15 last year.

At the time Churchward was 16 and Te Wini 14.

Sentencing the pair in the High Court at Rotorua this morning, Justice Geoffrey Venning refused to make allowances for Te Wini's age by imposing a lesser non-parole period than that of Churchward's.
He told the teens their attack on Mr Rowe had been brutal, sustained and meted out by both of them using Mr Rowe's own sticks.


How non-parole periods can be justified on children at all is a wonder, but to impose a period of seven years more than the standard parole eligibility date for Life is on the extreme side. I would have thought the young age of the offenders - and the situation of their family too by the sounds of it - would have cancelled out the aggravating features of the undoubted brutality and callousness of the attack.

Justice Venning also slammed the girls' families for failing them in "the most basic of ways" in their upbringing. The two are first cousins.

He is describing a background to the offending for which the defendants have no fault. Obviously this point had no effect at all in the sentencing and nor did their youth. These things, esp. age, must count and they should appeal.

It's not as if adults accused of bashing someone to death are any great risk to the community according to other members of the Bay of Plenty judiciary:This 21 year old is on charges for attacking a prominent and respected school principal from behind and killing him and he's effectively been remanded at large by Judge Harding. How does this approach to adult males square to locking away two girls for their deed for longer than they are old when they committed it?

15 Comments:

At 18/12/09 6:53 pm, Anonymous kerry said...

sorry cant agree.....we are talking about a elderly man who had his head cracked open!

14 or 40 they need to be locked up for a long time.....a life was taken so i dont think 2 years in a residential home is gonna cut it, cause then you would be saying the deceased mans life was worth nothing!

 
At 18/12/09 9:19 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It looks like a reasonable sentence to me and it should serve as some sort of a warning to other vicious little would-be thugs.

 
At 18/12/09 9:36 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, what an apologist for violence. He was a helpless old man, who gave his life to teaching.

 
At 18/12/09 9:44 pm, Blogger rangi said...

Kerry (and everyone else who thinks this is even remotely just) GET FUCKING REAL, 14 is a CHILD...
14 year olds can't and shouldn't be expected to be treated like adults - their thought processes just aren't developed.

I'm sure u did some dumb shit without thinking about the consequences when you were that age. I sure did - granted I didn't kill anyone, but the principal is the same.

locking these kids up until the prime of their lives is over ain't gonna bring the old man back

Death penalty by stealth?

 
At 19/12/09 11:39 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

one punch to back of head v's two bitches breaking into a home and repeatedly bashing an old man. BIG DIFFERENCE...HELLO????? Bitches have got what they deserved, except their families should be thrown inside as well.

 
At 19/12/09 2:02 pm, Anonymous Paul said...

Selwyn, your a disgrace

 
At 19/12/09 5:12 pm, Blogger Tim Selwyn said...

Paul, it's "you're" - as in: you're not fully literate.

Anon 9:19: "It looks like a reasonable sentence to me and it should serve as some sort of a warning to other vicious little would-be thugs."
- Warning? Deterrence? A 16 and a 14 year old (esp. with a poor family upbringing) are not going to be considering the relative harshness of recent sentencing when they commit an offence - it will not affect their behaviour.

Anon 11:39: I don't know the circumstances surrounding the death of Hawea Vercoe beyond what has been briefly stated in the news reports. It hasn't gone to trial so we don't know what the defence might be and exactly what went down outside the pub that night - all I'm saying is the guy is accused of a murder and has been freed on bail over the festive season by a judge in the same district as the girls were from. It's worth noting.

 
At 19/12/09 9:23 pm, Blogger Wayne said...

Yes I thought the 17 years, only one year short of what Weatherston got, was excessive. Especially in the case of girl who was only 14 at the time of the crime. Surely there has to be differentiation between the responsibility of the 18 year old and the 14 year old?

This 14 year old kid, notwithstanding the heinousness of her crime, does in no way deserve a minimum sentence just one year less than what Weatherston got.

The judge was absolutely wrong in not taking her age into account.

I would expect that her sentence is reduced on appeal - if not, then something is very wrong.

In the judges very words "You are victims of the failure of your own families to provide any sort of direction, support or encouragement to learn any sort of values ..."

But then he goes and utterly discounts his own words in the nature of the sentence he hands down.

 
At 19/12/09 9:41 pm, Blogger Wayne said...

The well known Parker-Hulme murder involved the murder of the mother of one of the teenaged girls who carried it out.
http://christchurchcitylibraries.com/Heritage/Digitised/ParkerHulme/

There were no mitigating circumstances and the girls came from good homes.The victim was bludgeoned to death with a brick I believe (Peter Jackson has made a movie of this murder called Heavenly Creatures).

The girls were duly convicted of murder, but in the end only served 5 years,. This was in the 1950s when hanging for adult murderers were still on the books.

One of the girls went on to become a top crime novelist, now named Anne Perry.

Fast forward 55 years, and we now telling a 14 year old girl from a terrible background that she has is fated to spend the next 17 years in prison.

Looks like we have gone backward in some respects.

 
At 20/12/09 8:59 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tim, the 21 year old should not have bail,
Simple.

Rangi

I sure did - granted I didn't kill anyone, but the principal is the same.

Wrong.
Teenage hijinks do not compare to a callous brutal murder.

locking these kids up until the prime of their lives is over ain't gonna bring the old man back

A) Fuck the prime of their lives.
They can spend the prime of their lives dwelling on the murder they comitted, whilst all their friends were just doing normal, teenage hijinks.

B) Locking people up will never bring people back from the dead, so why lock people up at all? Your logic is skewed.

Sorry, Rangi, do the crime, do the time, regardless of age.

Btw: If they are brutal killers as teenagers, what are they going to be like as adults?
I shudder to think.

 
At 20/12/09 4:11 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How dare you write such posts! I can only assume that the medication you are on has made your brain soggy. Either that or you wish to have a higher rating for your blog by writing such dribble. Whatever it is, I hope that Mr Rowe's family do not read this, for their sake.

You have a nerve in stating "I would have thought the young age of the offenders - and the situation of the family too by the sounds of it - would have cancelled out the aggravating features.."

So, what you are saying, if a kid has family problems, they can go out and bash to death YOUR father/grandfather and you would turn around and say, in court, "they are so young and their situation at home isn't ideal so any aggravating features will be cancelled out."
Oh my god!

Nope - do the crime - do the time - regardless.

 
At 20/12/09 7:24 pm, Blogger Barnsley Bill said...

I am a little uncomfortable with the sentence handed to the 14 year old and more so when you consider the facts that wayne outlined about the case from the 50's. The judge does seem to have contradicted himself as well.
No two murders are alike and any comparison with the vercoe killing are confusing the issue at this stage.
But you must agree that home invasion and beating an elderly man to death has to be right up there as one pof our more brutal killings of late.

 
At 20/12/09 7:51 pm, Anonymous bc said...

Nicely said anon (8.59am).
Let's look further at rangi's comment: "locking these kids up until the prime of their lives is over ain't gonna bring the old man back".
First of all what an incredibly callous comment. I really hope for your sake that you are just insenstive and naive but when you read comments like that you have to wonder if you have any empathy at all going on there.
Now onto the next thing - these were not "kids". The word kids conjures up images children playing silly pranks. You know full well that these girls haven't been "kids" for a long time.
And the "old man" did nothing but show compassion and was brutally killed for it.
Sometimes there needs to be a punishment (yes you heard it - a punishment) because society demands it.
And while I'm at it it's PRINCIPLE (something I suspect you lack) rather than principal.

 
At 27/12/09 10:13 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

These horiarse tuff girls gonna have a great time in pokey!! True buzz.

 
At 27/12/09 10:19 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is the worst post of 2009. Congratulations Tim-standing up for gutless Maaori home invaders who bash an elderly pakeha man to death!!! May they eat shit every last day of that non-parole period.

 

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