Youth now an aggravating factor?
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?