The mother of a Whangarei teenager forced to drop out of university after losing an eye in a drive-by attack is shocked the shooter's jail sentence has been substituted with home detention.

Compounding the hurt was the fact the family was not made aware that the man's appeal was being held.

Two months after Shane Paraha was sent to jail for 25 months when he admitted firing paintball shots at a group of people in central Whangarei, a High Court judge has deemed the sentence as "too tough" and quashed it, replacing it with nine months' home detention.

Paraha, 19, shot up to 10 rounds from a moving car in an act of revenge on the corner of Bank and Water Sts in Whangarei on December 18 last year.

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Five people, waiting for a taxi after coming out of a bar at 2am, were hit, some suffered bruising and a welt after being shot at in the upper body while a female was struck in her left eye.

She has lost sight in that eye and was forced to quit Auckland University of Technology where she was studying to become a physical education teacher.

Her mother yesterday said her family was unaware Paraha's appeal was going ahead as they had not been informed, and she was disappointed he was out of prison.

"I am just really disappointed that this has happened, that he can appeal and get to go home because he felt his sentence was unjust.

"[My daughter] can't appeal to anyone to have her eyesight restored and it's the rest of her life that is forever affected and that's what is unjust,'' the mother said.

"We are in shock over this development. No one has advised her of anything," she said.

While sentencing Paraha in the Whangarei District Court in May, Judge John McDonald said the teenager's actions had been planned and deliberate and resulted in terrible consequences for the young woman.

Paraha appealed his sentence on the grounds the starting point of two years and seven months was too high, insufficient consideration was given to his age, remorse, and lack of previous convictions, as well as for his early guilty plea.

At an appeal hearing in the High Court at Whangarei this week, Justice Anne Hinton agreed.

"This was in effect his first offence of its kind and he's gone to prison for that. Really? I think it's too tough and it's counterproductive," Justice Hinton said.

"We have to give these people a chance. He's done a terrible thing but I think he needs to be given an opportunity rather than be sent to prison. That's my view."

She said although a paintball gun was recklessly used and resulted in terrible consequences, the offending did not have the "viciousness and brutality" as seen in other cases.

Justice Hinton said the starting point of two years and seven months was outside Judge McDonald's range. She expressed concern at a lack of support shown to Paraha by his whanau.

His whanau said in the pre-sentence report prepared before his sentencing they supported him.

"There's a big divider between young Maori men and those of other races. If this was a young Pakeha man, there'd be six references filed in support," she said.

Home detention, she said, was not an easy sentence and there have been cases where people ordered to serve time at home have requested prison terms.