Two sentences

June 6th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Gavin John Gosnell – dismissed as an “evil nobody” by the family of his victim – has been jailed for at least 18 years for the murder and dismemberment of teenager Hayden Peter Miles.

Gosnell, an unemployed 28-year-old, was convicted by a jury on April 16 of the murder of the 15-year-old at the end of a seven-day trial. …

Hayden had gone missing in August 2011 and it had been 111 days before it was known what had happened to him.

“To find out that Hayden had been murdered and then dismembered brought me to my knees,” she said. “My family is forever broken.”

She was tormented by thoughts of Gosnell laughing and mocking Hayden while the teenager cried and begged for Gosnell to stop the fatal beating.

She said she would speak for Hayden, demanding of Gosnell: “How dare you beat and torment me? How dare you dismember my body and bury me in graves? My family buried me with dignity. I am missed every single day.”

Another family member said: “I know now there is such a thing as pure evil.” …

This is what he did:

Justice Chisholm said Hayden was drinking with Gosnell and Gosnell’s partner at their flat when Gosnell flew into a rage over a comment that the teenager made.

A prolonged beating involving punching and kicking followed. It involved Gosnell trying to break Hayden’s arms and legs, and it resumed three or four times.

Hayden was screaming and crying, while Gosnell laughed.

Hayden was not breathing properly and suffered a bleeding brain injury during the night after being put to bed.

His body was cut up the next day by Gosnell. A witness described him as again laughing.

So here is my question. Why did the Crown not ask for life without parole?

The Act states in s103(2A):

If the court that sentences an offender convicted of murder to imprisonment for life is satisfied that no minimum term of imprisonment would be sufficient to satisfy 1 or more of the purposes stated in subsection (2), the court may order that the offender serve the sentence without parole.

Surely this is a case for which life without parole was designed for?

The other hideous person to be sentenced is the man who sold his 13 month old son for sex.

A “depraved” paedophile has been sent to prison for sexual offending against his infant son.

A 27-year-old South Canterbury man was sentenced in the Oamaru District Court this afternoon to eight years 10 months imprisonment by Judge Joanna Maze for offending which will have a profound effect on his child.

The man sat motionless in the dock as he was sentenced on a raft of child exploitation charges, including two of sexual violation and indecent assault, and selling the use of his then 13-month-old son for sexual gratification for $500.

A minimum non-parole period of five years was imposed.

I’m sorry but a five year minimum is not enough in my view. I think selling your child for sexual abuse, is even worse than being an abuser yourself.

He was granted permanent name suppression to protect the identity of his victim, the charges also included eight of doing an indecent act and 15 of making, possessing and distributing objectionable material and breaching a restraining order. The child is in the care of his mother.

Wouldn’t it be good if the victim (or in this case his mother) was offered a name change, so he can be identified without it naming the victim.

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55 Responses to “Two sentences”

  1. LiberalismIsASin (290 comments) says:

    Death penalty. Let the Lord sort them out.

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  2. s.russell (1,642 comments) says:

    Wouldn’t it be good if the victim (or in this case his mother) was offered a name change, so he can be identified without it naming the victim

    I do not see how this would work, because the name of the offender will still reveal the identity of the victim to everyone who knows the victim/mother NOW. A name change won’t mean they forget the past name, it would only allow them to go somewhere new and make new friends without those new people knowing. This strikes me as a poor solution to the problem.

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  3. nasska (11,580 comments) says:

    …”This strikes me as a poor solution to the problem.”….

    But a better solution than having an offender (who is statistically rated as having a 50% chance of re offending) walking out of prison in five years time able to anonymously blend back into the community & breed a new victim.

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  4. metcalph (1,430 comments) says:

    As heinous as Gosnell was, this was really a murder through prolonged beating and not that different in cruelty from Weatherston or Lundy. If it had been multiple victims or an exceptionally cruel method of death then the life without parole would have been applicable.

    BTW two Gosnells in the slammer for nasty deaths, one here and one in the US. What are the odds?

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  5. Scott (1,805 comments) says:

    Regarding the murder I would be happy with the death penalty. I believe that if we reinstated the death penalty then the number of murders per year in New Zealand would decline abruptly. And so lots less of these types of situations would occur. And young guys like this poor victim would still be living.

    Capital punishment is the right solution in my view.

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  6. KapitiCoast (114 comments) says:

    No one is disputing the sentences are too low, we could fill blogs with examples of ‘not long enough’ and even debate at what level/how heneous a crime has to be to bring back the death penalty. One thing I do know is that for every day these scum are insde means EVERY day they will be looking over their shoulders in fear…they will be abused/beaten/riduculed and alot worse!!, we all agree their sentences are too lenient, but their stay in prison will seem like an eternity for them. Most likely in solitary for 23hrs a day protection, but they will still be saught out and found on a regular basis….it’s not much comfort to the victims, but some solace when the hurt has died down knowing these animals will be living a hellish life inside :) (and when they get out also, but that’s another story)

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  7. dime (9,980 comments) says:

    “If it had been multiple victims or an exceptionally cruel method of death then the life without parole would have been applicable.”

    jesus. we think different. that is one of the cruelest murders ive read about in NZ for a long time. Imagine being laughed at while you beg for your life. its some seriously sick shit.

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  8. RRM (9,933 comments) says:

    :shock: How the fuck do people get life so wrong?

    Stories like this just make me want to go home and spend more time with my little 1-year-old boy.

    That “father” should be in a hole in the ground.

    With Gosnall’s body parts for a pillow.

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  9. Kea (12,841 comments) says:

    Capital punishment is the right solution in my view.

    Many would agree with you, but what informs that view ? Emotion or facts ?

    Does the death penalty really reduce these sorts of crimes or does it simply satisfy peoples urge for revenge ?

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  10. nasska (11,580 comments) says:

    Of the two crimes DPF instanced the one involving the kiddy concerns me more. I’m not suggesting that the death by beating inflicted by Gosnell wasn’t a particularly nasty murder but having a father sell his baby son to a fellow paedophile grates against everything that separates us from lower forms of animal life.

    Whatever the question, the death penalty is not the answer. The day before the details of how the police set up Arthur Thomas were revealed was the last date that the people of NZ would have accepted the reintroduction of capital punishment. What would stand a chance of success is for a concerted push for preventative detention to be nearly mandatory for crimes against kids & life to mean life.

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  11. Graeme Edgeler (3,289 comments) says:

    Surely this is a case for which life without parole was designed for?

    Not really.

    First strike life without parole will happen, if it ever does, for a much more serious murderer than this (and use of the word murder is deliberate, I am confident the Courts will treat the LWOP option as being for the worst murderers, not the worst murders). If we ever do get LWOP for a first strike murder, I suspect it will be for, in order of likelihood:

    a serial murderer
    a mass murder, with multiple victims, especially if it includes police, or involving actual terrorism
    a murder combined with something really bad, e.g. a years-long kidnapping with sexual abuse
    a second vicious murder where the first one occurred before three strikes

    I don’t see it ever happening (or at least, happening in the next quite a while) for a single one-off murder, no matter how depraved. The one exception to this would be something like a political assassination. If someone targets and kills the PM, or a visiting head of state, LWOP might happen.

    From a judge’s perspective, they’re not deciding this person will get out after 18 years (and at the moment, that is very unlikely); it is entirely possible that a prisoner like Gosnell may never get out, or may get out briefly, before returning for another decade or more following a relatively minor parole breach.

    A judge is unlikely to claim the knowledge that a one-off murder, no matter how depraved, shouldn’t even be released in 50 years’ time.

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  12. wreck1080 (3,923 comments) says:

    I’m not surprised at this light sentence.

    In the days of when the most heinous murderers get less than 20 years, what do you expect?

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  13. Mr Nobody NZ (391 comments) says:

    Kea> Does the death penalty really reduce these sorts of crimes or does it simply satisfy peoples urge for revenge ?

    The death penalty (in my opinion) does neither of these things it, it won’t stop people killing others in sick and sadistic ways or satisfy any of the family members feelings including revenge. What the death penalty does do however is to ensure the offender will never have the opportunity to re-offend against society and provide justice to the victims.

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  14. Graeme Edgeler (3,289 comments) says:

    In the days of when the most heinous murderers get less than 20 years, what do you expect?

    I’m prepare to bet that this guy will serve more than 20 years.

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  15. Scott (1,805 comments) says:

    What informs my view about the death penalty?

    First of all the word of God. Capital punishment was mandated in the old Testament and was not rescinded in the new Testament. So I believe that capital punishment for murder is in line with God’s will for our society.

    Secondly our experience over history. It is a fact that in the 1950s the New Zealand police force would each year be able to count the number of murders they are investigating on their 2 hands. When the death penalty is abolished then murders go up.

    Thirdly it is just. To wilfully take somebody’s life means that Justice demands that you forfeit your own life. I believe the family of the poor young fellow that was killed would at least know that justice was done if capital punishment was exacted on his murderer. I appreciate it won’t bring the young man back. But at least they will know that justice was done and seen to be done.

    Under current circumstances in some cases the murderer is back on the street within a relatively short space of time. Even 20 years, which is a long time, is insufficient. For the murdered person will never be back on the street.

    So biblical revelation, historical experience and Justice are good reasons I believe for the reintroduction of capital punishment.

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  16. Weihana (4,557 comments) says:

    The death penalty works. That’s why there are no murders in the United States. :roll:

    The problem with the death penalty is that it is absolute but the standard of evidence used to convict can never be absolute. We have found that people are convicted on the basis of corrupt investigations or dubious evidence and we try to put it right where we can. But when we execute someone and they are innocent then every single one of us has, through our government, engaged in an act of premeditated murder. Sure we can characterize it as a “mistake”. Isn’t that exactly what Gosnell is trying to do? Ooops… sorry… my bad. Unfortunately regrets do not bring back the dead.

    There is a reasonable solution and that is life without parole for cold blooded murder. But neither that or executions are ever going to change the fact that humans have a propensity for violence and short of some sort of “minority report” style future we are always going to live with these tragedies.

    What we don’t have to live with is the prospect of letting out a cold blooded killer after 18 years.

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  17. Graeme Edgeler (3,289 comments) says:

    There is a reasonable solution and that is life without parole for cold blooded murder.

    You may have noted the description of this murder where it was made clear it was not cold-blooded, but in a violent rage.

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  18. laworder (292 comments) says:

    Graham Edgeler wrote

    First strike life without parole will happen, if it ever does, for a much more serious murderer than this (and use of the word murder is deliberate, I am confident the Courts will treat the LWOP option as being for the worst murderers, not the worst murders). If we ever do get LWOP for a first strike murder, I suspect it will be for, in order of likelihood:

    a serial murderer
    a mass murder, with multiple victims, especially if it includes police, or involving actual terrorism
    a murder combined with something really bad, e.g. a years-long kidnapping with sexual abuse
    a second vicious murder where the first one occurred before three strikes

    I don’t see it ever happening (or at least, happening in the next quite a while) for a single one-off murder, no matter how depraved. The one exception to this would be something like a political assassination. If someone targets and kills the PM, or a visiting head of state, LWOP might happen.

    From a judge’s perspective, they’re not deciding this person will get out after 18 years (and at the moment, that is very unlikely); it is entirely possible that a prisoner like Gosnell may never get out, or may get out briefly, before returning for another decade or more following a relatively minor parole breach.

    A judge is unlikely to claim the knowledge that a one-off murder, no matter how depraved, shouldn’t even be released in 50 years’ time.

    Evidently then if this is not a case for which life without parole was designed for then the threshold has been set far too high and needs to be lowered, either by legislation or by some other means (suggestions invited!).

    To my mind, and that of most others here, both of these cases clearly not only meet but considerably exceed any reasonable criteria for Life Without Parole, indeed some here are suggesting the death penalty. While I wouldn’t go that far, LWOP will have the necessary incapacitative effect that is required for both these offenders, and that is the most useful attribute of the death penalty as Mr Nobody has pointed out. It will also render moot the issue of naming the second evil subhuman that sold his 18 month old child, as there will be no real need for the community to know its name if it is inside for life.

    The statement by a family member in the first case that “I know now there is such a thing as pure evil…” is very interesting and relevant to the second case also. It brings to mind this fascinating article from the New York Times of a few years back to which I cant find the link at the moment

    Regards
    Peter J
    see http://www.sensiblesentencing.org.nz

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  19. Black with a Vengeance (1,865 comments) says:

    Hopefully natural justice and law of the jungle will sort em out inside….

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  20. David Garrett (7,318 comments) says:

    From off the record conversations I have had with a couple of Crown Solicitors, Graeme E is right in his 10.56….but that doesn’t mean he should be.

    In my view, LWOP should at least have been sought for Gosnell..that allows the Court – in declining to hand down such a sentence – to give some guidance on just what type of crime LWOP would be an appropriate sentence for. At present, there is no such judicial guidance, and some prosecutors – unbelievably – are only dimly aware that LWOP is even available as a sentence in NZ.

    At the other end of the scale of course, in some US states LWOP is the mandatory sentence for first degree murders, which are roughly equivalent to murders with one or more of the aggravating circumstances listed in s.104 of the Sentencing Act here in NZ.

    Another case which cries out for LWOP to at least be sought is the killer of Jade Bayliss. The killer – Jeremy McLaughlin – has a prior conviction for murder in Australia. That alone would qualify him for LWOP in most US states.

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  21. RRM (9,933 comments) says:

    Scott –

    The idea that our laws should be shaped based on your opinions about what your invisible, imaginary creator spirit supposedly wants for humanity, is almost as frightening to me as the knowledge that people like Gosnell walk among us.

    We should have true life sentences for crimes like murder.

    We should not have capital punishment. The possibility that a false conviction might lead to an innocent man’s execution makes capital punishment distasteful, and something a civilised country should not do.

    (It does not matter how many false convictions and executions of innocent people there might actually be. The existence of such a mechanism of the state is bad enough.)

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  22. Weihana (4,557 comments) says:

    Scott (1,408) Says:
    June 6th, 2013 at 11:17 am

    What informs my view about the death penalty?

    First of all the word of God. Capital punishment was mandated in the old Testament and was not rescinded in the new Testament. So I believe that capital punishment for murder is in line with God’s will for our society.

    There goes “God’s will”… and with it goes any hope for rational discourse.

    Secondly our experience over history. It is a fact that in the 1950s the New Zealand police force would each year be able to count the number of murders they are investigating on their 2 hands. When the death penalty is abolished then murders go up.

    When you have enough time to put the Bible down, have you had a chance to study logic by any chance? Through such studies you might discover that a correlation (if it can even be regarded as such) does not imply causation. For instance, California has the death penalty and we don’t yet their murder rate is about 6 times the rate in Zealand. Guess what, their crime rate was also lower in the 50s.

    Thirdly it is just. To wilfully take somebody’s life means that Justice demands that you forfeit your own life. I believe the family of the poor young fellow that was killed would at least know that justice was done if capital punishment was exacted on his murderer. I appreciate it won’t bring the young man back. But at least they will know that justice was done and seen to be done.

    And yet this family, from what I saw, has not called for more killing. They have simply called for him never to be let out. A reasonable demand that does not require more blood being spilt.

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  23. F E Smith (3,305 comments) says:

    I just want to second Graeme’s 10.56am comment.

    This murder does not meet the expected criteria for life without parole. If you want to argue that life without parole should be a more common sentence, or that all murders should be met with a LWOP sentence, then fine, but your argument is more with the legislature than the Court.

    With regards Laworder’s comment that

    both of these cases clearly not only meet but considerably exceed any reasonable criteria for Life Without Parole,

    well, that is just stupid.  The second case, however awful, is not on the same level as a vicious murder and it is wrong to suggest that it is.  While a lengthy sentence might be appropriate (and, again, if you have a problem with the length of sentences then lobbying Parliament to raise the  maximum sentences which will see ‘regular’ sentences rise) it is wrong to suggest that it should be a whole of life sentence.

    I would also point out that the offender in the second case is likely to serve most of his sentence.  I would be very surprised if he was granted parole at 5 years.  That is a mininum, not a recommended sentence.

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  24. Weihana (4,557 comments) says:

    Graeme Edgeler (2,961) Says:
    June 6th, 2013 at 11:25 am

    You may have noted the description of this murder where it was made clear it was not cold-blooded, but in a violent rage.

    Poor choice of words perhaps. Point is, he viciously beat a child, he intended to do such, any reasonable person would appreciate that a person could die from such violence. Personally I do not really see the difference between someone putting poison into a person’s tea and this. Emotions can drive a person for some time and I do not accept that there is a significant difference just because someone can characterize their violence as “in the heat of the moment” or a “rage”.

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  25. F E Smith (3,305 comments) says:

    I would also point out this from the first article:

    Speaking on behalf of Hayden’s father’s family, lawyer Andrew Riches said they felt the sentence was appropriate and they had finally achieved justice for Hayden.

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  26. metcalph (1,430 comments) says:

    jesus. we think different. that is one of the cruelest murders ive read about in NZ for a long time. Imagine being laughed at while you beg for your life. its some seriously sick shit.

    Umm, more than a few murders in NZ actually involve the victim begging for mercy during the crime. I would be more surprised to hear of a victim who didn’t beg for mercy during a prolonged attack.

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  27. David Garrett (7,318 comments) says:

    Based on conversations I have had with Crown Solicitors, Graeme E at 10.56 is quite right – but that doesnt mean he should be.

    In my view, LWOP ought to have been sought for Gosnell, if only to give the sentencing judge the opportunity to give some guidance on what kind of case would merit LWOP when he refused to impose it in Gosnell’s case. As it stands, there is no judicial guidance at all on when LWOP would or might be appropriate. At the other end of the continuum of course, in many US states LWOP is the MANDATORY sentence for first degree murder, which is pretty much murder with one or more of the aggravating circumstances listed in s.104 of the Sentencing Act here.

    One case coming up where LWOP absolutely should be sought is that of McLaughlin, the killer of Jade Bayliss, a young girl. McLaughlin has a prior conviction for murder in Australia, which in most US states would guarantee him LWOP at the very least.

    As for the death penalty, we can fill 100 threads on it…it’s never going to happen. Get used to it. It doesn’t matter what the evidence is, no NZ political party will support it.

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  28. F E Smith (3,305 comments) says:

    he viciously beat a child, he intended to do such, any reasonable person would appreciate that a person could die from such violence

    And that is textbook reckless murder, which Gosnell’s counsel pointed out in sentencing.  It does not require an intent to kill the person or that they die from the violence. Personally,  I think that does in fact differentiate it from 

    someone putting poison into a person’s tea

    Which is an act, carried out in cold blood, that intends the intended victim to in fact die.

    I make this point in relation to the intent, rather than as a comparison of the brutality of the different methods of killing.

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  29. Keeping Stock (10,342 comments) says:

    Could Graeme or FE Smith help us out here; what were the maximum sentences available to the District Court Judge in Oamaru for the respective charges that the paedophile admitted? And is there a maximum sentence that a DC Judge can pass down? In a case like this, I would have thought that the lower court Judge may have considered a referral to the High Court for consideration of Preventative Detention, or were the offenses not of sufficient severity (by statute, not by morality)?

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  30. Weihana (4,557 comments) says:

    F E Smith,

    This murder does not meet the expected criteria for life without parole. If you want to argue that life without parole should be a more common sentence, or that all murders should be met with a LWOP sentence, then fine, but your argument is more with the legislature than the Court.

    I’m not really sure how the calculation works but my understanding is that the starting point is the minimum non-parole period at which point they consider the specific circumstances of the murder which may raise or lower the non-parole period. Correct me if I’m wrong on this.

    In any case my view is that the presumption should be life without parole and then we work backwards rather than starting at a minimum non parole and working upwards if the crime is particularly heinous. Obviously we never know when a person is going to die but we have a good idea of the average lifespan.

    Perhaps this murder is the type of murder (e.g. “in the heat of the moment”) that would permit a person to possibly be let out when they are elderly. But at the moment this guy could get out when he’s 50. Doesn’t seem right given what he has taken.

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  31. Weihana (4,557 comments) says:

    F E Smith (2,569) Says:
    June 6th, 2013 at 11:47 am

    I make this point in relation to the intent, rather than as a comparison of the brutality of the different methods of killing.

    I appreciate your point and can certainly see the logic in it. But it seems to me that, practically considered, this distinction rewards those who are physically powerful in comparison to those who are not. Consider a husband and wife where the husband is much more physically powerful than the wife. In one scenario the wife cheats on the husband and the husband beats her to death in a jealous rage. “I was in a rage” he will claim. “I didn’t mean it”. In the second scenario the husband cheats on the wife and the wife, angry and jealous, puts poison in his food because lets face it, she’s could not confront her husband with physical force. According to the logic you outlined we presume her act to be worse, but I would regard them as essentially equal on those facts alone.

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  32. Graeme Edgeler (3,289 comments) says:

    Could Graeme or FE Smith help us out here; what were the maximum sentences available to the District Court Judge in Oamaru for the respective charges that the paedophile admitted?

    They are described as:

    Sexual violation (20 years maximum)
    Indecent assault (assuming this is different from the indecent act charges, but I don’t see why it would be) (7 years maximum)
    Selling the use of his then 13-month-old son for sexual gratification for $500. (in legal terms, this a poor description of the actual charge, so I have no idea))
    doing an indecent act [on a child?] (10 years)
    making, possessing and distributing objectionable material (10 years – soon to be increased to 14 years)
    breaching a restraining order (six months, unless they are describing a protection order, in which case 2 years)

    is there a maximum sentence that a DC Judge can pass down?

    A DCJ can impose life imprisonment if it is available for a charge they have jurisdiction over (e.g. murder must be tried and sentences in the High Court).

    There are maximums if the judge involved isn’t a trial judge who can conduct jury trials, but otherwise the only prohibition is based on the charge, or the statutory maximum (which excludes preventive detention, which has to be the High Court).

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  33. Graeme Edgeler (3,289 comments) says:

    In any case my view is that the presumption should be life without parole and then we work backwards rather than starting at a minimum non parole and working upwards if the crime is particularly heinous.

    Fine argument, but that’s not how the law as passed by Parliament works. Take it up with them.

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  34. F E Smith (3,305 comments) says:

    KS,

    I can’t really say, because I haven’t seen the indictment and thus don’t know what charges the man was actually facing. However, a DCJ in trial jurisdiction is really only limited by the maximum sentence of the offence, so long as the District Court has jurisdiction.  See this section for more.

    Weihana,

    I’m not really sure how the calculation works but my understanding is that the starting point is the minimum non-parole period at which point they consider the specific circumstances of the murder which may raise or lower the non-parole period. Correct me if I’m wrong on this.

    Correct, see sections 102 to 105 of the Sentencing Act generally.

    In any case my view is that the presumption should be life without parole and then we work backwards rather than starting at a minimum non parole and working upwards if the crime is particularly heinous. Obviously we never know when a person is going to die but we have a good idea of the average lifespan.

    A fair argument.  Not one that I agree with, but certainly one that has merits and is a valid, reasoned view.   I do think that we have our normal MPI for life imprisonment set too low, however.

    But at the moment this guy could get out when he’s 50. Doesn’t seem right given what he has taken.

    As Graeme said, it would be surprising if he served less than 20 years, and I would expect at least low 20 years to be served prior to parole being granted.  Again, you make a fair case.  But our normal MPI for life is 10 years, with 17 years the starting MPI for the worst sort of murder.  As I said above, I think this is set too low, but I don’t like whole of life sentences.

    EDIT: Ah, I see that Graeme has beaten me to it. Suffice to say that I agree with him, and also his responses to Weihana.

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  35. Keeping Stock (10,342 comments) says:

    Cheers Graeme and FE; so potentially this “father” could have been given 20 years, but got less than half of that for offences which most people would regard as at the very upper end of the scale of seriousness. What could be worse than a father perpetrating sexual abuse on his own infant child, filming that abuse and distributing it, THEN offering the child to another paedophile for his gratification. I certainly hope that the Crown is considering an appeal in this case, as I would consider the sentence imposed yesterday to be manifestly inadequate.

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  36. F E Smith (3,305 comments) says:

    for offences which most people would regard as at the very upper end of the scale of seriousness

    Yes, but ‘people’ would be wrong.  The thing is that a lot of offending goes unreported, so your point must be tempered by the addition of the words “as far as they are aware”.  

    I am not aware of the extent of the abuse, so I am unable to say whether this is in fact so bad that it would warrant a higher sentence.  It might, but I just don’t know enough of the facts to say so.

    I certainly hope that the Crown is considering an appeal in this case, as I would consider the sentence imposed yesterday to be manifestly inadequate.

    Someone might be able to tell us what the Crown suggested as a starting point for the sentence.  That would give us a good idea as to whether they are considering appealing or not.  My guess, however, would be that they are not.

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  37. Kelvin Kubala (9 comments) says:

    s.russell (1,312) Says:
    June 6th, 2013 at 10:13 am
    Wouldn’t it be good if the victim (or in this case his mother) was offered a name change, so he can be identified without it naming the victim

    I do not see how this would work, because the name of the offender will still reveal the identity of the victim to everyone who knows the victim/mother NOW. A name change won’t mean they forget the past name, it would only allow them to go somewhere new and make new friends without those new people knowing. This strikes me as a poor solution to the problem.

    How about an enforced name change for the perpetrator “Mr Child Offender”

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  38. peterwn (3,275 comments) says:

    And Gosnell is already swinging Plan ‘B’. People in his situation do not want to take the stand when tried and when convicted they think they could have got off (or in Gosnell’s case a manslaughter conviction only) if they had taken the stand. So they claim misunderstandings, incomptent lawyers, poor advice, etc. Fortunately, appeal judges are usually not impressed with this.

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  39. b1gdaddynz (279 comments) says:

    Thanks to Graeme and F E Smith for sharing your helpful explanations and knowledge with us!

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  40. metcalph (1,430 comments) says:

    David Garrett.

    McLaughlin (Jade Bayliss’s killer) does not have a prior conviction for murder. He has a prior conviction for manslaughter (although there was a sufficient outcry about it given the circumstances of the crime).

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  41. Chuck Bird (4,895 comments) says:

    Peter, I wonder how Gosnell will be able to file an appeal without a lawyer.

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  42. Jack5 (5,137 comments) says:

    Eighteen years for the monster Gavin John Gosnell is a light sentence. What an apology for a human being.

    Life without parole for Gosnell? Why should we pay to feed and house a monster like this?

    I, too, reckon Gosnell deserves capital punishment, and from a humane point of view that would be better than life without parole. Either of those two sentences would be more appropriate than 18 years without parole,however.

    What a terrible thought that Gosnell might live to come back into the community and breed.

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  43. David Garrett (7,318 comments) says:

    metcalph: My mistake….as FE and Graeme will no doubt confirm, the difference between manslaughter and murder is often a good lawyer…i.e. where there is no doubt that X has killed Y, and the only issue is whether there was intent to kill, or the required degree of recklessness as to the outcome to the extent that intent is inferred.

    That is why the late Greg King could name his fee, whereas Joe Soap LL.B of New Plymouth…can’t. (Mr Soap is a mythical character, before all you little rats go making complaints to the Law Society…)

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  44. Chuck Bird (4,895 comments) says:

    “the difference between manslaughter and murder is often a good lawyer”

    That is also a good argument against the death penalty. If there was a death penalty for murder juries would more often choose manslaughter when murder would be the right verdict.

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  45. F E Smith (3,305 comments) says:

    the difference between manslaughter and murder is often a good lawyer

    Absolutely, although even the great ones among us can only work with the facts that they are given.

    That is why the late Greg King could name his fee

    Which makes more admirable the fact that Greg worked so often for a legal aid fee that was several hundred dollars per hour less than he could charge privately, and was at least $40 per hour less than the Crown lawyer opposite him was earning their firm.

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  46. David Garrett (7,318 comments) says:

    FE Smith: Quite so…he even acted pro bono on occasion where he thought an injustice was being done…Greg is the reason the Law Society didn’t succeed in their attempt to utterly destroy me…Once he had decided they were pursuing a vendetta rather than justice, there was no charge. May he Rest in Peace, poor chap.

    Chuck: that’s exactly right, and the reason I am no longer in favour of the death penalty…that and the fact that trying to get it reinstated would be a complete and utter waste of time.

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  47. F E Smith (3,305 comments) says:

    If there was a death penalty for murder juries would more often choose manslaughter when murder would be the right verdict.

    I think this would be true.  It may also see some juries bring a rider back with their verdict, that of guilty, but with a recommendation of mercy.

    I would also point out that in days gone by many death sentences were commuted to life imprisonment by the responsible government minister.  This practice dates back hundreds of years.  Trying to recall the figures off the top of my head, I think that historically the UK only saw about one third of death sentences actually carried out.

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  48. F E Smith (3,305 comments) says:

    I wonder how Gosnell will be able to file an appeal without a lawyer.

    It isn’t that difficult. I have had a couple of occasions where the client has been sent to me after they have filed an appeal on their own.  I have also seen one where the officer in charge of a case appealed a sentence and then handed it on to the Crown for them to continue with it- I am sure there were some choice words sent his way by the powers that be!!

    Legal aid will assign him a new lawyer.  Probably one in Wellington to save on travel costs.  His trial lawyer was appointed as amicus because he had conducted the trial so was best informed to present the mitigation.  You don’t have to be trial counsel to prosecute an appeal, although it does help if you were. 

    I don’t know why he sacked his lawyer, who is a very experienced criminal lawyer.  I suspect that there might have been a disagreement over how the mitigation was to be presented, given what transpired.

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  49. David Garrett (7,318 comments) says:

    FE: It was rather more than one third, but it is certainly true that many were commuted, as of course was the case here.

    As I have said here before, I changed my mind after spending time in Tonga, where there were some blatant perverse verdicts – notwithstanding that cp was only a discretionary sentence – as a result of pressure on jurors by the churches. For different reasons – i.e it wouldn’t be the churches applying the pressure – exactly the same thing would happen here. Can you imagine some vegan Green Party member ever bringing in a guilty verdict where death by hanging was even remotely possible?

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  50. bc (1,367 comments) says:

    Another crazy sentence:
    Two men that attacked a tourist with a hammer in a road rage incident get home detention

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10888831

    On a positive note a crazy sentence gets overturned on appeal:
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10888847

    Note original crazy sentence of home detention for permanently disabling an elderly woman when he robbed her.

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  51. David Garrett (7,318 comments) says:

    Home detention for permanently disabling an elderly woman? F.. me… And they say I’m not fit to be a Judge…

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  52. rightoverlabour (108 comments) says:

    Death penalty for both, at the end of a 30 year life sentence in solitary.

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  53. David Garrett (7,318 comments) says:

    rightover: Always refreshing to know there are much harder bastards out there than me! Seriously though…I have yet to hear a good reason why these bastards can’t do hard labour…building their biceps in a quarry, and not the gym…

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  54. Honeybadger (215 comments) says:

    metcalph (1,044) Says:

    June 6th, 2013 at 10:22 am
    As heinous as Gosnell was, this was really a murder through prolonged beating and not that different in cruelty from Weatherston or Lundy. If it had been multiple victims or an exceptionally cruel method of death then the life without parole would have been applicable.

    ‘If it had been an exceptionally cruel method of death’???? if? IF?

    metcalph, do you not think the beating the young man took was exceptional? really?

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  55. ChardonnayGuy (1,207 comments) says:

    I strongly agree with you on this one, David. Let’s markedly increase the duration of sentences under the relevant provisions of the Crimes Act for any and all forms of child sexual abuse. Or institute mandatory preventative detention for repeat offenders.

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