Is this a candidate for life without parole?

June 27th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A 39-year-old man has been found guilty of kidnapping and murdering a Hawkes Bay sickness beneficiary.

Steven Tiwini Rakuraku faced 11 charges, including the murder of the 50-year-old Johnny Charles Wright, who disappeared on June 21, 2011. …

A reader suggests that Rakuraku is a candidate for life without – a sentencing option available since 2010. He notes:

  • Victim was effectively imprisoned in his own home.

  • Victim was effectively tortured over a period of weeks, if not months, buy repeated beatings, including with a weapon of war (Taiaha).  This was not a one-time, sudden loss of control murder, it was premeditated and repeated, brutal and callous in the extreme.

  • I understand the offender has a serious history of offending prior to this case.

The question has to be that if a crime like this doesn’t qualify for LWOP, what would qualify?

Tags: ,

66 Responses to “Is this a candidate for life without parole?”

  1. Northland Wahine (667 comments) says:

    In my opinion, he qualifies for a bullet between the eyes.

    Popular. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 25 Thumb down 2 You need to be logged in to vote
  2. Captain Pugwash (98 comments) says:

    I think life with out parole is too harsh, he may be able to be reformed. He is 39 now, so a non parole period of say 59 years, should give him enough time to get rehabilitated. No point in going overboard with these things.

    Popular. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 32 Thumb down 3 You need to be logged in to vote
  3. lilman (959 comments) says:

    Give me a break,it’s a beat up.

    1,He had a sugar based diet for years.
    2,He was a victim of his upbringing.
    3.He was subjected to racism at school,home and the community.
    4.He was forced to speak English at school.
    5.He wouldnt cut his hair at school,so was excluded.
    6.His house was damp,without insulation.
    7.He was forced to share a bedroom with another sibling.
    8.He fell through the cracks of Government institutions.

    Maybe hes is just a piece of excrement and deserves to get a more permanent lesson?

    Popular. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 32 Thumb down 3 You need to be logged in to vote
  4. Harriet (4,972 comments) says:

    “….The question has to be that if a crime like this doesn’t qualify for LWOP, what would qualify?…”

    His victim’s life is worth no more than any other’s.

    You can’t do that to the families of other victims.

    Sure, he is a saddist – but then it must be said it wasn’t a child who was the victim.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 16 You need to be logged in to vote
  5. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    Without the actual full details it is of course difficult to know for sure, but given the nature of the offending I would suspect this guy is a psychopath. He will never be able to be rehabilitated, and release shouldn’t be an option.

    However, I also don’t believe that mainstream prisons should have to deal with such people, and that he needs to be locked up in a forensic psychiatry unit where he can be dealt with by people that know about such conditions, and not where his behaviour can deflect from the normal running of a prison.

    These types of prisoners are a handful to deal with, constantly mud raking, and often cause unnecessary problems.

    It would be interesting to see his previous convictions, which if it is psychopathy, there will be some hints.

    Vote: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  6. OneTrack (3,104 comments) says:

    He’s a good boy really.

    Vote: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  7. jackinabox (776 comments) says:

    Give him the Ernst Röhm option.

    Vote: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  8. peterwn (3,272 comments) says:

    My personal view is that prisoners should appear before a parole board at least 10 yearly, even if there is no parole or lengthy non parole period. There should be a parole opportunity although in such cases either the barrier should be very high or the age or health of the prisoner such that re-offending is very unlikely. With that proviso, yes a life sentence without parole is a valid option to register denunciation.

    Vote: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2 You need to be logged in to vote
  9. Manolo (13,774 comments) says:

    His whanau will claim this wild and savage beast is nothing but a gentle guy.
    I blame colonialism for his misfortune.

    Vote: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  10. flipper (4,065 comments) says:

    Judith (6,814 comments) says:

    June 27th, 2014 at 10:25 am

    Without the actual full details it is of course difficult to know for sure, but given the nature of the offending I would suspect this guy is a psychopath
    ****

    Would that we still had Lake Alice as it was back in the 70s. I made several visits and got to talk with some very nasty people, who seemed, on the surface, to be quite ordinary. They were not. It was never a forgiving place for any inmate (note: inmate, not patient), but it served a very useful purpose. Not sure about Mirams’ role though.

    Vote: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  11. WineOh (630 comments) says:

    Leave a clearly-labelled massive dose of sleeping pills in his holding cell, with life-without-parole as the alternative and save the taxpayer a huge amount of money.

    Vote: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2 You need to be logged in to vote
  12. Chuck Bird (4,883 comments) says:

    He should get LWOP and there should be no appeal allowed on a non parole period as LWOP should be a starting point.

    Vote: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  13. Jack5 (5,137 comments) says:

    Of course, we should have the death penalty.

    How unfair that for years we will all pay to keep this despicable mongrel fed, warmly and cleanly clothed, and with free medical and dental treatment, with total free time for weights work-outs, TV, music, reading, visitors, and who knows, soon even internet acccess.

    Judith’s 10.25 suggestion of “a forensic psychiatry unit” would be ridiculously expensive and wasteful.

    Vote: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 7 You need to be logged in to vote
  14. Graeme Edgeler (3,289 comments) says:

    The question has to be that if a crime like this doesn’t qualify for LWOP, what would qualify?

    I don’t think you’re approaching this the way a court would.

    The question the court looks at isn’t usually going to be whether a *crime* qualifies for LWOP, but whether a *criminal* does.

    There is now (all but) automatic LWOP for people who commit murder as a second strike (or third strike). But only offences committed after the three strikes law was passed count as strikes. If you have an offender who has the criminal history to have strikes but who doesn’t because of the timing of those offences that will make discretionary LWOP more likely to happen.

    I don’t think Graeme Burton has a strike history, but if he commits another murder – even a murder much less serious on its own than this one – I reckon he’d probably get LWOP.

    It is possible this offender will get LWOP, but if so, it will not really be because this offence was so egregious, it will be the combination of the offence with the criminal history. I have no knowledge of this guy’s criminal history, but note that he doesn’t appear to have an entry on the Sensible Sentencing Trust’s database.

    What type of murder (rather than ‘what type of criminal?’) would qualify for LWOP in the absence of a serious criminal history?

    [copied from the last time you asked this question]

    * 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 the Queen, or a visiting head of state, LWOP might happen.

    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. People serving life sentences do not have to be released, so even for a really depraved murder like this one, a judge is likely to defer consideration of release to someone else (the parole board), years down the track.

    Vote: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  15. Jack5 (5,137 comments) says:

    If judges were banned from living in the safe, leafy suburbs, they might be tougher in sentencing , Mr Edgeler (11.05 post).

    Vote: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  16. OneTrack (3,104 comments) says:

    “Would that we still had Lake Alice as it was back in the 70s”

    We are much more progressive now …….. Oh, wait.

    Vote: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  17. tvb (4,422 comments) says:

    Rakuraku may well serve the greater portion of his sentence anyway. Trust the parole board. But I know of a couple of 2nd strike homicides who are on second strike. No parole for them if convicted.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  18. RRM (9,924 comments) says:

    Jesus.

    Kill it with fire.

    Vote: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  19. big bruv (13,895 comments) says:

    “Steven Tiwini Rakuraku ”

    Sigh!….. now there’s a surprise.

    Vote: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 2 You need to be logged in to vote
  20. igm (1,413 comments) says:

    Bet he votes Labour.

    Vote: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 5 You need to be logged in to vote
  21. jackinabox (776 comments) says:

    “Of course, we should have the death penalty.”

    Not while the Commissioner of Police describes one of the worst bent cops in NZ’s history as having “integrity beyond reproach”.

    Vote: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2 You need to be logged in to vote
  22. David Garrett (7,278 comments) says:

    Graeme E: Are you aware of the McLaughlin case recently, in Christchurch? McLaughlin was convicted of the murder of Jade Bayliss, the 13 year old daughter of a woman McLaughlin had been in a relationship with. McLaughlin had a conviction for a previous homicide – the manslaughter of a boy in Australia for which he had served a prison sentence and been deported back here some years before.

    This case is believed to be the first in which LWOP was sought. The Judge said in that regard”…I regard you as on the brink of meeting the test, but not quite crossing the line.” Given that this murder – as nasty as it was – is not one of the cases you suggest in your 11.05, I respectfully suggest that it may not take such a case as you suggest for LWOP to be handed down.

    Also with respect – and being a bit bold given our respective areas of expertise – I don’t think I agree that what is relevant is the nature of the criminal and not the crime. s.104 of the Sentencing Act (which as you know contains the factors which justify a 17 year plus minimum NPP) refer throughout to “If the murder…” NOT the murderer…In s.103 – which is the LWOP section – there are references to BOTH the crime AND the criminal.

    As others have noted, there are numerous aggravating features in this case which will no doubt make it a s.104 case, i.e a minimum NPP of 17 years or more. In the McLaughlin case there were effectively two aggravating factors: the fact that he had killed before, and the fact that it was a young girl in her own home. If those factors put McLaughlin “on the brink of meeting the test…” I would suggest it would not take a very bold Judge to find that his POS was well OVER the line. Time will tell I guess.

    Vote: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  23. Mobile Michael (451 comments) says:

    We have a forensic psychiatric unit in Porirua. This is where the most depraved criminals can be found.

    I can’t see any mitigating circumstances – LWOP sounds appropriate.

    Vote: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  24. lastmanstanding (1,297 comments) says:

    No No No

    What this poor man needs is a wrap around love and attention holistic approach to help him to overcome the trauma he has suffered from the colonial oppressors.

    He is suffering the grief of his ancestors who were treated so badly by the conquering colonial forces.

    He deserves compensation not punishment.

    Vote: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  25. Chuck Bird (4,883 comments) says:

    “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.”

    Then they should get judges with more knowledge. I and a few other on KB would volunteer.

    LWOP parole allows the victim’s family some chance of closure without dreading having to appear in front of a parole board pleading for justice.

    The reason we have three strikes is because judges were not doing their jobs properly. This judge is allowed to sentence this POS to LWOP he should do his job.

    Vote: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  26. David Garrett (7,278 comments) says:

    Mobile M: I am being a bit of a pedant, but there is now only one secure unit for the criminally insane (as we were once allowed to call them) and that is the Mason Clinic here in Auckland….while there is undoubtedly a psychiatric unit in Porirua – as there has been for some years – it does not hold “the most depraved criminals”…it may well hold some committed patients, i.e. patients who are compulsorily detained because they are deemed to be a risk to themselves or others, but they are a different category.

    Vote: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  27. David Garrett (7,278 comments) says:

    But back to LWOP…there is of course huge room for movement for a Judge who finds that the factors in s.103 of the Sentencing Act justify a minimum NPP of 17 years or more… but not quite enough for LWOP (McLaughlin got 23 years) In similar overseas jurisdictions with laws like ours – such as Australia and the UK itself – minimum NPP’s for nasty murders of 30-40 years are not uncommon…In effect of course, if the offender is in his 30’s when he receives an NPP of 30 or 40 years that may well in fact be a “whole of life” sentence. And then again it may not….and there are several cases of killers being released in their 60’s and committing violent crime again.

    All it takes is one Judge who is happy for his sentence to be reduced on appeal to give someone like this POS an NPP of 35 years…The high point – as far as I know – remains Bell’s minimum NPP of 30 years for three murders at the Panmure RSA…(reduced on appeal from 33)…but that was a long time ago, and sentences have got harsher since…

    Vote: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  28. David Garrett (7,278 comments) says:

    ..And there’s another pretty indefensible sentence…7-8 years for a manslaughter by stabbing…(see the Herald website) the maximum penalty for manslaughter is life imprisonment…This was a killing by three assailants over nothing…the story refers to a dispute over a toothbrush FFS…25 years not 8 if I was in the chair…which of course I would never be…

    Vote: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  29. jackinabox (776 comments) says:

    And speaking of depraved Mason Clinic inmates, did David Charles McSweeney who stabbed his wife Suzanne McSweeney up to 30 times in the arms and upper body, in what police described as a “frenzied attack” in the offices of the couple’s Silverdale textile business get life without parole?

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  30. Graeme Edgeler (3,289 comments) says:

    I don’t think I agree that what is relevant is the nature of the criminal and not the crime. s.104 of the Sentencing Act (which as you know contains the factors which justify a 17 year plus minimum NPP) refer throughout to “If the murder…” NOT the murderer…In s.103 – which is the LWOP section – there are references to BOTH the crime AND the criminal.

    I’m not sure we actually disagree on this. My statement on this case was

    It is possible this offender will get LWOP, but if so, it will not really be because this offence was so egregious, it will be the COMBINATION of the OFFENCE with the CRIMINAL HISTORY.

    Given that this murder – as nasty as it was – is not one of the cases you suggest in your 11.05, I respectfully suggest that it may not take such a case as you suggest for LWOP to be handed down.

    It kind of was included, I also said:

    If you have an offender who has the criminal history to have strikes but who doesn’t because of the timing of those offences that will make discretionary LWOP more likely to happen.

    I would note, of course, that even then, it wasn’t actually serious enough, and I stand by my prediction that the first sentence of LWOP will be a mandatory one, not a discretionary one.

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2 You need to be logged in to vote
  31. David Garrett (7,278 comments) says:

    Jack: I am assuming your question is rhetorical? There have been no LWOP sentences handed down yet…without wishing in any way to be disrespectful of the late Ms McSweeney there is a world of difference between a case like that and the present case….the extended period of torture in the victim’s own home being the most obvious difference…

    Then again, in many US states a murder like that of Ms McSweeney would attract an LWOP sentence…under our law as currently written, a case such as that would never qualify…

    Graeme: thanks for that…I think if you read the full McLaughlin judgment you may just change your mind…if it was’t in bad taste to do so, I would wager a bottle of wine that a case like the one were are discussing here today may well attract LWOP given the Judge’s remarks in McLaughlin..

    Vote: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  32. jackinabox (776 comments) says:

    Charming fellow wasn’t he David?

    https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/alt.true-crime/Rt8HKc2kpus

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  33. RRM (9,924 comments) says:

    Well IMHO anything that meets the commonly-understood meaning of “torture” should just about automatically max any sentencing.

    Maybe I’m a bit soft, but I actually find Dr Mengele’s bio more repulsive than Mr A. Hitler’s. Killing someone is bad enough, organising the deaths of millions is bad enough, but deliberately causing as much pain and suffering as you can along the way (and getting off on it) is just the most hideous thing one human being can do to another.

    We need a giant cannon on the beach for deporting people like this. When he hits the water 25km offshore at 1300 km/h, I expect his end will be mercifully quick and painless compared to whatever his victim experienced.

    Vote: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  34. David Garrett (7,278 comments) says:

    Jack: Please don’t misunderstand me…McSweeney is clearly an asshole…and the murder was a nasty and brutal…but then with few exceptions – such as mercy killing by agreement – by definition murder is a nasty brutish crime…but it is on a continuum, that’s all I am saying…

    RRM: Right wing fantasy mate…CP will never be reintroduced…I have written why here several times…

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  35. Dom Knots (155 comments) says:

    fire don’t burn a bad weed.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3 You need to be logged in to vote
  36. Chuck Bird (4,883 comments) says:

    David, do you think 2 degrees of murder would be a good idea? First degree would start at LWOP and could be reduced with recommendation of the jury but the sentence could not be appealed.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  37. dirty harry (489 comments) says:

    We live in a country which is embarrassingly soft on crime. The offender is a scumbag who should be put to death. I dont give a flying fuck about his poor upbringing…because it would have been..his ” parents ” would have been scum as well. Scum breed scum.

    Execute it immediately. Send him to his maker.

    Vote: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2 You need to be logged in to vote
  38. David Garrett (7,278 comments) says:

    Chuck: We effectively have FOUR degrees of murder now, but graded by sentence and not by charge, as in the US (there is only one charge – murder – but four possible sentences…They are, from the most serious:

    LWOP…as we are discussing, never imposed yet. Criteria listed in s.103 of the Sentencing Act; effectively that no other sentence would be sufficient to punish or deter others.

    Aggravated murder: Minimum NPP of at least seventeen years. Imposed for murders where at least one of the factors in s.104 of the Sentencing Act are present: e.g extreme cruelty; evidence of lengthy prior planning; victim murdered in his or her home.

    “Ordinary” murder: Life imprisonment with a mimimun NPP of 10 years.

    “Special Circumstances” murder (for example where one elderly person kills his or her spouse at the victims request because he or she is terminally ill and in great pain. such cases are very rare…I believe there have only been two since this section of the Sentencing Act was inserted (and for the record I agree that these type of cases should not attract a life sentence)

    And then of course you have manslaughters which are close to murder: maximum sentence for manslaughter is life. Judges will often say “this case falls very close to murder” and give sentences as long as the person might serve for “ordinary” murder.

    Vote: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  39. mike tan (485 comments) says:

    The special circumstances murder you describe should not receive a jail sentence of any length.

    Vote: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  40. Chuck Bird (4,883 comments) says:

    David, The difference is that jury decides on murder of manslaughter and the judge decides ordinary murder or aggravated murder. In the US the jury decides on the degree of murder and they also in many states can make a recommendation.

    I would like to see first degree attract LWOP with some exceptions considered on jury recommendation.

    It would not take much of a law change for a juries recommendation of LWOP to be a major factor in sentencing in cases like this.

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  41. David Garrett (7,278 comments) says:

    Chuck: You have effectively put your finger on the difference between here and the US: there, with different charges for the different degrees, you have juries playing a much greater role in sentence (because there are often mandatory sentences for different degrees of murder, so the verdict decides the sentence)

    Here, all the jury has to do is decide is if the case is one of murder or – where alternative charges are laid – manslaughter. The Judge effectively decides by his sentence which category it falls in.

    I personally favour juries having much more of a role in the sentence, but governments of both hue have traditionally been opposed to that.

    Vote: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  42. Scott (1,800 comments) says:

    I am in favour of capital punishment. Mr Garrett says it will never be reinstated. Why not? Liberals love killing people. Surely they could find it in their heart to give these fellows the punishment they manifestly deserve?

    And LWOP is not a good sentence in my opinion. People then have no incentive to good behaviour and have no compunction about killing again while in prison because what more can the penal system do to them?

    Also it seems a very expensive option and is locking up someone forever till they die really more “humane” than capital punishment?

    Vote: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 4 You need to be logged in to vote
  43. flipper (4,065 comments) says:

    DG…

    Yep, the Mason Clinic holds most of the real psychopaths.
    Not been there, but have dealt with some, and employed one former family-committed inmate for a short time.

    Like you, I have no desire to be pedantic. But did the piece of excrement face Torture Act charges as well as murder?

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  44. Viking2 (11,471 comments) says:

    lilman (816 comments) says:
    June 27th, 2014 at 10:19 am

    Give me a break,it’s a beat up.

    1,He had a sugar based diet for years.
    2,He was a victim of his upbringing.
    3.He was subjected to racism at school,home and the community.
    4.He was forced to speak English at school.
    5.He wouldnt cut his hair at school,so was excluded.
    6.His house was damp,without insulation.
    7.He was forced to share a bedroom with another sibling.
    8.He fell through the cracks of Government institutions.

    Ah, you left of his lack of breast feeding.
    How could you miss that?

    Maybe hes is just a piece of excrement and deserves to get a more permanent lesson?

    Vote: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  45. lilman (959 comments) says:

    Add to the list,be my guest by all means.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  46. David Garrett (7,278 comments) says:

    Scott: I have answered this question before…so I will cut and paste this one so I don’t have to write it all again next time someone raises the issue of reintroduction of CP.

    My main reason for changing my mind since I wrote the book 15 years ago is my experience in Tonga, where CP is still on the books as a discretionary sentence for murder, but hasn’t been carried out for more than 30 years. (the last time it was used it was a brutal ‘cut them up with a bush knife’ type murder; no question that the three villains were guilty)

    For twenty years after the hangings in 1982 there were no murder convictions in Tonga…plenty of murders, but invariably the verdict was manslaughter. The reason was the churches telling their congregations that if they were on a jury and found a man guilty of murder, THEY would go to hell along with him. While the churches obviously don’t have that kind of influence here, I believe the same phenomenon would occur – can you imagine your average smelly unwashed greenie voting for a guilty verdict if there was even a chance the person would hang? And it’s not just them…we have become a very soft cock society as someone else has said. If we were to reintroduce CP I believe we would actually achieve the opposite of what is intended, and have a host of perverse verdicts of manslaughter in cases that were clearly murder.

    The second reason I have changed my mind is the sheer number of cases where it appears the cops may – if not definitely have – got it wrong. Bain was able to convince both the Privy Council and a second jury that he was not guilty…I don’t believe Teina Pora is guilty. I am not particularly comfortable with Scott Watson’s conviction. I believe Lundy is guilty, but he will almost certainly walk at his second trial because of dodgy forensic evidence, and a police “theory of the case” which is impossible in a material respect, viz. the timing of the drive to and from Palmy.

    When you have Police who arguably get it wrong so often, you cant be hanging people.

    LWOP putting other prisoners and guards in danger? Absolutely. I don’t care very much about the type of prisoner who will be locked up with LWOPers; the guards who have to look after the bastards are another matter. But then they sign up to what can be a very dangerous job. Much greater cost of LWOP for 30 or 40 years? Absolutely. See paras two and three above.

    Lastly, no government will ever reintroduce it, no matter how much support CP got at a CIR. So even if none of the above applied, it just wont happen.

    Oh, I amost forgot until I re-read your post: NO, I don’t believe LWOP is more humane than CP…but then the prisoner can always take himself out if he wishes. Any determined suicide will always succeed eventually.

    Vote: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  47. Rex Widerstrom (5,354 comments) says:

    David Garrett says, in relation to McSweeney:

    without wishing in any way to be disrespectful of the late Ms McSweeney there is a world of difference between a case like that and the present case….the extended period of torture in the victim’s own home being the most obvious difference…

    Yet, from the link jackinabox provided, which is a repost of a Sunday Star Times story:

    Suzanne’s daughter Marlena Hardjo went to police a year before the murder to tell them a former police officer was abusing her mother.

    and

    Suzanne had taken out a protection order against McSweeney 10 days before he killed her.

    and

    The former detective… was initially charged with kidnapping [of his mother in law]…

    The kidnapping charge was only dropped as part of a plea bargain. And from this story:

    It was revealed that he had been violent towards his wife Suzanne over a long period.

    Keeping a woman ‘imprisoned’ in a home through emotional manipulation, threats, financial pressure and other means is no different to keeping a man there by threats and acts of violence. The lack of alternative accommodation and suitable support is also a significant factor. It appears Suzanne McSweeney endured thuggery for at least as long as did Johnny Wright – possibly for most of her marriage.

    I cannot for the life of me see the distinction between one POS and the other, aside from the fact McSweeney was a police officer. If anything, that makes the offence more serious. McSweeney would have taken every possible advantage of other officers’ reluctance to arrest one of their own, and his contacts within the force, to have his behaviour remain hidden.

    When Suzanne’s daughter alerted police she was told her mother would have to make a complaint. Yet any police officer trained in domestic violence knows that this often doesn’t happen (or doesn’t happen in time). Certainly the ones I’ve dealt with will act on a third party complaint if they feel it to have any credibility, even if only to visit the victim while the alleged abuser is out, and inform him or her of their options, including laying a complaint.

    Commenters here regularly lament what they see as a decline into vicious lawlessness and are happy to blame psychologists, judges, members of the parole board and others for it. But what of police?

    Does anyone really believe a thug like McSweeney didn’t use the same tactics that proved so effective in manipulating his wife on suspects shut away from scrutiny in an interview room or cell? How many wrongful convictions are being served out in our prisons as a result of his actions? No one wants to ask, let alone know the answer.

    You cannot expect respect for the law if those charged with upholding it do not themselves respect it. Therefore when one of them is exposed as a POS, the bare minimum we have a right to expect is their equivalence before the law with a remarkably similar POS.

    That hasn’t happened here.

    Vote: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  48. Mobile Michael (451 comments) says:

    David – the unit in Porirua has held Stephen Anderson, Larry Parr, and many other notorious murderers. However, only those found not guilty by reason of insanity end up there.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  49. duggledog (1,557 comments) says:

    I would have thought the outcome of this sentence should be excellent vote fodder for Colin Craig and his Conservative Party going up to the GE, if indeed the system can get round to it before September – or even 2017!

    I remember Craig saying recently something along the lines of ‘National haven’t really done anything in relation to serious crime and penalties’.

    Well, yeah exactly bro. Open the paper or click on the NZ Herald on pretty much any given day and you’ll see the latest murder / assault / aggravated robbery / child beating or murder that’s happened overnight, or the court case of one of the above, or sentencing. Generally speaking it’s a Maori or PI but that’s another story.

    I don’t know if any government can do anything about the crime rate that’s allegedly tapering off; the seeds for that were sown long ago when we threw away long-established ‘draconian’ rules and mores and went all liberal, but administrations can do something about keeping the miscreants out of circulation, for much longer periods which is what the vast majority of punters want.

    In the lunch rooms around New Zealand, this is what people talk about. They don’t talk about the GCSB or Mr Liu. If someone does, it’s met with silence and a topic change. I’ve seen it from drilling rigs to biscuit factories to milking sheds. They want mortgage rates at a reasonable cost, jobs, etc etc and SAFETY from rock apes like Rakuraku roaming all over the countryside. Look at those three pigs that stabbed that guy over a hard drive and wees on a toothbrush – what was it eight years, out in five?

    Crazy times. I’ll say this; if Colin Craig ever got his dream of binding referendums through, we’d need to build a few more prisons. At least tourists, old ladies and babies would be safe though.

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  50. jackinabox (776 comments) says:

    “I am in favour of capital punishment. Mr Garrett says it will never be reinstated. Why not?”

    A A Thomas!!

    Vote: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  51. PaulL (5,981 comments) says:

    The problem I have is that in the US they have substantially increasing sentences, many of them mandatory sentences. And they have a lot of their population locked up for things they shouldn’t be locked up for, and they have people stigmatised for all sorts of things that I think are manifestly unjust.

    To give two examples, they have mandatory sentences for possession of some drugs – so you’re being jailed for the crime of wasting your life. Whilst NZ has laws against many drugs, I don’t see us prosecuting them anywhere near as vigorously (and personally I’d prefer us going the way some US states are and some European countries have, and decriminalising many or most drugs).

    In another, they have mandatory registration of sex offenders. Fair enough if we’re talking people with a propensity to commit sex crimes, not fair enough when we have guys registered for the rest of their life for having sex with their 15 year old girlfriend when they were 16. That’s just wrong – particularly given some of the restrictions that are imposed on people on that list. I think I saw reports that there are girls who are 15 who are on the list because they sent someone a selfie of themselves – stupid sure, but being labelled as a child pornographer for sending someone a photo of yourself is a pretty useless law. The point of having some level of judicial discretion is to be able to deal with anomalies and clear injustices.

    Vote: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  52. nasska (11,510 comments) says:

    ….”A A Thomas!!”…..

    Indeed jackinabox. The day before it was revealed that a cartridge had been planted to ensure that conviction was the last day that the reintroduction of capital punishment had an iceberg’s chance in Hell of succeeding.

    Vote: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  53. David Garrett (7,278 comments) says:

    Rex: I wasn’t aware of all of those facts…and yes, in the light of them I would agree there isn’t too much difference between the two POS..

    And for what it’s worth, I agree that the man being a cop is an aggravating factor…If you take a job enforcing the law on others, with powers not granted to ordinary citizens, then you had better damn well be whiter than white…

    Vote: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  54. jgw739 (26 comments) says:

    My two cents….

    Life With Out Parole = soft option, burden on the state for the next how long?
    Death Penalty = justice served, family avenged/closure, no burden on society

    To me its a no brainer if the guy is proven beyond any form of doubt.

    Just saying.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  55. PaulL (5,981 comments) says:

    @jgw739: the capital punishment system in the US is widely accepted as being more expensive than LWOP. If your reason for wanting capital punishment is to save money, then I’d suggest that reason isn’t likely to work (and, to me, also isn’t a good one – in the scheme of the justice budget the cost of 3-4 people on LWOP is minuscule, and not worth the potential downsides of capital punishment).

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  56. jackinabox (776 comments) says:

    “To me its a no brainer if the guy is proven beyond any form of doubt.”

    And what is “any form of doubt” in your opinion jgw739? Two jury trials, two convictions, two failed appeals?

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  57. Reid (16,457 comments) says:

    Life With Out Parole = soft option, burden on the state for the next how long?

    There’s a line in the sand one crosses if one executes.

    I’ve supported LWOP for over 30 years, ever since I lost my privileged status as a callow youth. I’ve never supported the death penalty because to me that compounds the crime by committing another.

    While I recognise actuarial calculations as a fact of life, the cost of supporting a relative handful of lifers to me, pales by comparison to the ethical swamp one encounters if one uses state resources and state processes to take a life.

    It’s not why I think like this but I recall Muldoon’s comment in his Once a Young Turk book to the effect Kirk gave all the new boys the opportunity to talk to the State Hangman when the death penalty debate was on in the (50’s?)

    Anyway, he said after they had talked to him, they all voted against retention.

    As I say, that’s not why I think this way, but it’s something to think about, isn’t it: if you’re a supporter, does that make you a murderer, even if you’re not the one flicking the switch?

    Vote: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  58. georgebolwing (854 comments) says:

    Imposing the death penalty seems to be saying that society has the right (I’ll get to ability in a bit) to decide that one person’s life is worth more than another’s. I think that those a distinctions that just shouldn’t be made.

    But I am with David Garret on this, because we live in a world populated by fallible humans, the death penalty being reintroduced would inevitably see more injustices. Two come to mind:

    a) there are already too many cases of convictions either being overturned due to subsequently proved police/prosecution failings (Thomson, Bain) or continuing to raise genuine doubts (Watson);

    b) when made very clear to juries that a conviction leads to death, as the defence will undoubtedly do, there will be more acquittals of murder, or at last hung juries. In other words, every murder trial will become a mini-referendum on the death penalty, but each of the twelve members of the jury will have a veto (I am assuming that we would never go for majority verdict in capital cases).

    And once the stakes are increased, a lot more people will become interested in being active opponents of the death penalty, meaning well-resourced “innocence projects” would undoubtedly come into existence, making every capital case of legal quagmire.

    Vote: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  59. Rex Widerstrom (5,354 comments) says:

    @David Garrett

    Thanks for clarifying that. It really worries me that Suzanne McSweeney may still be alive if her husband hadn’t been a police officer. If the officers had acted on her daughter’s complaint, Suzanne might have gained the courage to get out and have the bastard charged before he did her any harm. But of course we’ll never know.

    It also really worries me that a man that lacking in decency in his private life was vested with the power of arrest and charge for so long. I’ve encountered a few judges / magistrates who start from the perspective that any cross-examination of police evidence is tantamount to high treason and spitting on the Queen, so merely being charged burdens you with the presumption of guilt. And let’s not mention the media, who revel in stories of charges being laid and then conveniently overlook their being dropped, or the eventual acquittal.

    Sadly, I’ve also found that a small percentage of police take the job precisely because they’re not “whiter than white”… they’re sociopaths with Napoleon complexes. Unfortunately the harm they do is out of all proportion to their numbers – both to their victims and to the standing of their fellow officers. In the old days, most such types would find their level as a traffic cop… now there are no such distinctions.

    Vote: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  60. brad123 (18 comments) says:

    Regarding the statement that inmates serving LWOP are likely to misbehave/ be a danger to others because they have nothing to lose. Whilst this does seem like a reasonable argument, I do recall reading one or two studies done on LWOP inmates in the USA and the inmates condemned to LWOP were not necessarily any more dangerous than the inmates serving short sentences.

    The reason being was that, yes they are in prison and yes they are likely to be there forever, but by behaving they got the good prison privileges, got to work the best jobs, and be kept in minimum security units rather than maximum security. There is a huge difference (both in USA and NZ) between inmates in maximum security and minimum security prisons and the minimum security life that inmates had was quite pleasant when compared with the quite often 22-23 hour lock down per day in which maxi inmates reside. Because the LWOP inmates had been in the prison system a long time, they knew how to get what they wanted, and would risk losing their privileges or low security status if they assaulted other inmates/ prison guards for example. In simple terms the studies both concurred with one another that LWOP inmates were (especially the older inmates) no more likely to misbehave and many were even more trusted by the guards than short term inmates. I will try find a link to the journal articles as well

    Personally, I believe that a sentence of Life with no Parole or review does indeed share many of the same attributes of Capital Punishment, namely the denial of hope, redemption or even acceptance that an inmate may one day change. There have been some quite notable cases of people serving LWOP in the USA who the President recently pardoned, as there was simply no point in keeping them locked away any longer because they were older, and had changed and were different men. Not to mention the $ cost of keeping an older, sometimes infirm inmate in prison.

    Having said that, there are without a doubt some murderers or other criminals that probably deserve LWOP (Malcolm Rewa- serial rapist and killer) springs to mind at the moment (not that he is likely to ever be released anyway). But I don’t think such a severe punishment should be mandatory. Or as one poster mentioned above, if an inmate has been fully redeemed many years down the track there should be some sort of review system/ parole option available.

    Vote: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  61. Rex Widerstrom (5,354 comments) says:

    @brad123

    I’d be interested to read those journal articles if you have them.

    Vote: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  62. Nostalgia-NZ (5,206 comments) says:

    On the denial of hope point, many years ago there was a letter written by NZ maximum security inmates that started with the frank admission that they were not a ‘gathering of well adjusted individuals’ or words to that effect – the subtext however was about the lack of hope. Someone recently linked to the Norway regime that has been successful, the letter included many of the ideas now employed in the ‘Norway plan.’ I’m unsure of the origins of the Norway initiative, but certainly the maxi inmates here were able to present, and probably predate something very similar that when all else was gone hope could readily find a home for those that wished to change.

    I liked Rex’s subtle ‘exposure’ of the Napoleon complexes, the universities could take a lead on such studies as they would likely go to the core of the ‘Justice’ system presented as one thing while in fact being another. We have the 2 juries ‘proving’ guilt for example then the blind denial that the Jury only knew part of the story and the rest was hidden in files by those that had decided on gut feelings, or under public pressure guilt when in fact it is solely their job to gather evidence broadly and not by definition of what they may already decided about a particular case. Pora is going to be another watershed and the Bain case if far from done as the scientists continue to conclude their work, so with such difficulties in getting one side of the ledger in shape it seems a small investment to not exclude hope or redemption on the other.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4 You need to be logged in to vote
  63. Scott1 (552 comments) says:

    The argument that LWOP are more dangerous than non lifers seems to make the same mistake that argues that LWOP is a deterant. Simply people like this don’t make rational decisions about long term consequences – thats why they are caught and in jail.

    If they feel hopeless (and we want to manage that) that is something that the prison system can manage without ever giving them freedom on that same basis (that they are not entirely rationally effected by such things).

    In general – If we break the purpose of jail down into deterant, protection of future victims, rehabilitation etc we can make a rational call on what to do based on evidence that will create the best possible outcome.

    Vote: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  64. Rowan (2,373 comments) says:

    Australia have a sentance for the worst category of offenders where they can be sentenced indefinitely “never to be released” which to me would be a good option for this unfortunate piece of excretement. Jeremy Maclaughlin, Graeme Burton, Malcolm Rewa or Jules Mikus would be other candidates for such a sentence

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  65. brad123 (18 comments) says:

    @ Rex Widerstrom

    Hi Rex, I can email you a journal article if you would like to give me your email address. If you google ‘Life without Parole: America’s New Death Penalty” you will come across some interesting material as well.

    Otherwise try this: http://tpj.sagepub.com/content/88/2/328.abstract

    But the link may not work as I think you need a subscription/ university library account in order to access the full journal

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  66. kiwidaza (1 comment) says:

    I lived next door to rakuraku when he murdered the johnny character ……I heard and saw him shouting and threatening john who was trying to fix a problem with the roof of the house that he was being captive in. I made the mistake of confronting another person who was around there lighting afire of which smoke was pouring into the kitchen and all over the washing. This rakuraku creep starts yelling and being totally angry about the situation trying to find out who i was and what gave me the right to be there , I backed of at this point and explained the problem repeatedly starting to regret my decision to deal with it the way I had. (Should have rang council) I became weary of this bastard looking around outside before going to the garage or to the back yard.The next few weeks went by and I noticed the paper at the mobile station with a picture of johnny on the front and read about his disappearance. I then got home and saw people in white garments walking around the yard of their address when two detectives came to my front door.They explained that johnny had been murdered. I had to give a statement to the police and was looking at some time in the stand as a witness to what I had explained to them. Turns out that I got jury service but It was for RakuRaku’s case so didn’t do it. I wasn’t called up as a witness other so that was a good out come for me. They had enough evidence from there key witness (ex-partner ) let alone other people who had dealt with this prick. He is a complete scum bag who thinks he’s tough and clever when he’s just an idiot who has to pick on defense-less people to gain what he wants. If they let this peace of shit out then he’s going to hurt someone else. You would come to this conclusion yourself if you where to have the misfortune to meet him……

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote