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'They still got off lightly': Garrett

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 27/06/2016

Moko Rangitoheriri © NZ Police Moko Rangitoheriri The killers of three-year-old Moko Rangitoheriri have been given the stiffest ever sentence for a child's manslaughter but the Sensible Sentencing Trust believes they got off lightly.

Tania Shailer, 26, and David William Haerewa, 43, were jailed for 17 years, with a minimum non-parole period of nine years, in Rotorua District Court on Monday for their callous and fatal abuse of the boy in Taupo last year.

The pair were initially charged with murder, but that was downgraded and they pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter.

Outside court, Sensible Sentencing's legal adviser David Garrett said the high-end 17-year term for manslaughter was a "pleasant surprise".

However, if the pair had been put on trial for murder and found guilty, they could have got life without parole or at least a minimum non-parole period of 17 years, Mr Garrett said.

"In other words, they've actually got off fairly lightly ... the judge has done all she can, I think."

Tania Shailer and David Haerewa © Newshub Tania Shailer and David Haerewa He believed the sentence would be successfully appealed.

The trust wants murder charges to stick in such cases.

"If it was to be manslaughter that's a decision a jury should have made ... not a couple of lawyers sitting in an office somewhere."

Family First also welcomed the 17-year sentence, but still wants a review of the legal system to avoid "plea bargains".

"Violent child abusers should not get manslaughter when the child victim gets a life sentence," said national director Bob McCoskrie in a statement.

The killers of three-year-old Ngatikauri Ngati, 13-month-old Trent Matthews, seven-week-old Milton Raroa, Lillybing, Delcelia Witika and James Whakaruru were also convicted of manslaughter rather than murder, he said.

"But these cases are not accidental. They are violent acts and extreme abuse of vulnerable defenceless children who deserve protection."

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING ABOUT THE SENTENCING OF MOKO'S KILLERS

"The extremity of the violence, multiple acts of violence, the breach of trust involved in your offending are all at the most serious end of manslaughter cases" - Justice Sarah Katz

"Based on the evidence available for trial, there was a substantial risk that one or both of the defendants would not be convicted of the legal charge of murder or manslaughter" - Attorney-General Christopher Finlayson

"We need to stay committed and we need to be loud and clear that we will not be tolerating child abuse in our country" - Sensible Sentencing Trust

"The message has to be clear - if you violently abuse a child in such a way that it results in their death, then it will be treated as murder. Violent child abusers should not get manslaughter when the child victim gets a life sentence" - Family First's Bob McCoskrie

"They've actually got off fairly lightly" - SST's David Garrett

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