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Burning body pair appeal rejected

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 13/07/2016
Bryne Perumal (L) and Shivneel Kumar (R) have been found guilty of burning Shalvin Prasad. © TVNZ Bryne Perumal (L) and Shivneel Kumar (R) have been found guilty of burning Shalvin Prasad.

Two men who murdered a man by dousing him with petrol and setting him on fire have lost their appeal against their convictions and sentences.

Shivneel Kumar, 21, and Bryne Permal, 22, were last March found guilty of killing Auckland man Shalvin Prasad in 2013 and sentenced to life imprisonment with no parole for at least 17 years.

The Crown argued the pair wanted money at any cost, and killed Mr Prasad so they could steal the $30,000 he'd saved from years of working at Pak'n Save to go on a spending spree.

However at an appeal hearing in May, the pair's lawyers said it was never proved they intended to kill him.

Kumar's lawyer, Ron Mansfield, argued that although a text message showed what time Mr Prasad went to meet the men and CCTV footage captured the pair buying the 15 litres of petrol they used to later burn him, there was no evidence about what happened between those two events.

Shalvin Prasad © TVNZ Shalvin Prasad

In its decision, the Court of Appeal said the cause of Mr Prasad's death was not contested, and he died because either Kumar or Permal - or both - set him alight.

"That fact was in itself compelling evidence of the parties' continuing intention to kill him, which originated in the unlawful act of rendering him unconscious."

While the pair had accepted their sentence of life imprisonment, they objected to the elevated 17-year minimum period.

However the court found the sentence was justified as the murder was committed with a high level of cruelty.

The indifference shown by Kumar and Permal to the inevitability that Mr Prasad would burn to death, and the extreme pain he would have suffered had he regained consciousness before dying, set the case apart.

Even if the pair thought Mr Prasad was already dead before they set him alight, they took no steps to verify this.

The "cold-blooded" crime involved a significant degree of planning and premeditation, the court said.

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