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Moko's killers' appeals dismissed

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 2/03/2017

The couple jailed for the manslaughter of three-year-old Taupo boy Moko Rangitoheriri have lost their bid for reduced jail time.

The Court of Appeal on Friday dismissed the appeal by Tania Shailer, 26, and David Haerewa, 43, to have time taken off their 17-year jail sentences, handed down last year.

Shailer had argued she should spend less time in prison due to her mental health issues, while Haerewa argued his involvement in Moko's death was not as serious as Shailer's.

But the appeal court has backed the sentencing judge's final 17-year term.

"The duration, cruelty and physical depravity of this offending by two adults acting together against a defenceless three-year-old child placed it within the most serious of cases for which the penalty of life imprisonment is prescribed," the justices said..

"Ms Shailer and Mr Haerewa can count themselves fortunate that they were not sentenced to life imprisonment."

Moko died while in the couple's care in August 2015. They were initially charged with the murder of Moko Rangitoheriri but later admitted a lesser charge of manslaughter - which prompted a public outcry.

Moko's injuries were horrific. His eyes were so badly swollen hospital staff couldn't open his eyelids to check his pupils. The pair had begun assaulting the boy as their animosity towards him grew and so did the intensity of the beatings.

It sparked protests around the country calling for a united voice against child abuse and a petition calling for an urgent change to the law which allowed the charge against Moko's killers to be downgraded in exchange for a guilty plea.

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