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Indefinite sentence for Te Atatu attack

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 25/05/2017

The family of an Auckland woman murdered and sexually violated by her neighbour in broad daylight say she can rest in peace after her killer was handed an indefinite jail term.

Jaden Lee Stroobant, 21, was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum non-parole period of 17 years for murder and to preventive detention for the sexual attack at the High Court at Auckland on Friday.

He earlier admitted to killing 69-year-old Cun Xiu Tian in her Te Atatu home in January last year and violating her as she lay dying.

Before Justice Graham Lang handed down the sentence, Ms Tian's son-in-law, Jianzhong Wang, told the court since the attack he had "experienced the darkest moments of my life".

"What has been given to me is life time of fear, insomnia, panic attacks, anger I never wanted or asked for, and first-hand knowledge of how depraved and disgusting a human being can be," he said.

Ms Tian's only daughter, Yun Wei, described finding her mother on the floor and said she had gone through "extreme sadness and pain" since.

"She totally lost her dignity in the last moments of her life. In her own home where she should have felt safe," she said.

"Mum must have been screaming and yelling for help."

The family had since questioned many life decisions, including moving to New Zealand in 1998, she said.

"You have not only killed my mum. You have also killed my hope and my future," she told Stroobant, calling him "cruel".

After the sentencing, the family said they were grateful for the result.

"They are satisfied justice has been served," Detective Constable Sarah Cato said reading a statement on their behalf.

"They are satisfied their mother is now resting in peace."

Prosecutor David Johnstone called the attack on Ms Tian - who weighed just 46kg - "brutal, cruel and depraved".

He said at the time of the attack, Stroobant was still under prison release conditions following a burglary conviction.

Since 2013 he had served four prison sentences, intensive efforts had failed to correct his behaviour from an early age, and he was deemed a very high risk of violent re-offending, Mr Johnstone said.

Defence lawyer Emma Priest told the court the attack was "out of character" compared to Stroobant's previous offending and that he had a dysfunctional childhood - including being expelled from school at 12, abused and spending time living on streets.

A sentence of preventive detention would send a message he was "beyond redemption", Ms Priest said.

But Justice Lang said an indefinite term would be an "incentive" for rehabilitation.

"It is the only realistic way the community can be protected," he told the court.

Stroobant had shown no empathy for his victims or interest in rehabilitation and the attack helped "to destroy the very social fabric of our community", Justice Lang said.

Stroobant lived next door to Ms Tian and her family, according to court documents.

On the morning of January 15, 2016, Ms Tian had been gardening while home alone when Stroobant came onto her property.

He then hit her so hard she fell to the ground, before stomping on her head and causing injuries that proved fatal.

Stroobant then carried out a sexual assault on Ms Tian while she was unconscious but still alive, before burgling the house.

Outside the court, Detective Senior Sergeant Roger Small told reporters even officers who had been in the force for many years were "were shocked, appalled and upset by the extreme violence" suffered by Ms Tian.

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