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March for Moko to outlaw plea bargaining

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 14/09/2016

© Fiona Goodall/ Getty Images Plea bargaining should be banned after two people charged with the murder of three-year-old Moko Rangitoheriri were able to plead guilty to a lesser charge, the Sensible Sentencing Trust says.

Tania Shailer, 26, and David Haerewa, 43, both pleaded guilty to manslaughter for their roles in the Rotorua toddler's death in August 2015.

It's a decision that led to a public outcry and a petition that will be delivered to Parliament on Thursday after a march from Midland Park in Lambton Quay from midday.

More than 6600 have signed it online and thousands more in print, according to the Trust.

As well as outlawing plea bargaining initiated from prosecutors, it also seeks a system where a High Court judge must approve the replacement of a murder charge with a lesser alternative.

"Ordinary Kiwis are absolutely outraged that the charges were downgraded from murder to that of manslaughter," Trust spokeswoman Jayne Walker said.

"Should you actually have the stomach to read the statement of facts ... there will be no doubt in your mind that he was indeed murdered."

The downgrade was allowed after Attorney General Chris Finlayson said there was "substantial risk" that one or both would not be convicted of either charge if the matter proceeded to trial, but Ms Walker said it was rare that there was so much evidence for a case of murder.

"Cold blooded murderers cannot get away with anything less than a murder conviction. If this brutal torture and the long list of hideous injuries is not murder - what is," she asked, urging people to join the march.

Shailer and Haerewa were caring for three-year-old Moko for two months while their mother Nicola Dally-Paki accompanied another child to Auckland's Starship Hospital.

As their animosity toward him grew so too did the intensity of the beatings he received over those two months.

He was punched, kicked, slapped, bitten, had faeces rubbed on his face and the deadly blow was a stomp to the stomach.

When he was finally taken to hospital on August 10 his eyes were so badly swollen hospital staff couldn't open them to check his pupils and he was so cold doctors couldn't check his temperature.

Shailer and Haerewa were both jailed for 17 years in July, and have since sought to appeal the length of the sentences.

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