The father of murdered bank teller Marcus Doig is calling for the public to use their vote this election to push for tougher sentences so victims are spared the anguish his family has endured.
Mr Doig has signed up for a new Sensible Sentencing Trust campaign, kicking off this week, calling for the public to vote for political parties that offer tougher sentencing and a better deal for victims.
It features relatives of murder victims appealing to the public to "Vote for Justice". Listeners are directed to the trust's website for the results of a survey revealing the law and order policies of each political party.
In one advertisement, Marcus' mother Sue Doig asks people to "vote for a party that will protect you and your loved ones from killers like Marcus's killer".
The 23-year-old was shot in May 2002 at the pizza shop where he worked by Ese Junior Faleali'i during a P-fuelled robbery. Faleali'i was sentenced to a non-parole term of 17 years and nine months.
Three years on, the Doigs are still trying to come to terms with how their son was killed.
"This bastard just got the gun and fired it right through his head while Marcus was on the floor face-down," said a still-angry Mr Doig. "Executed by murder after this guy got the money. How do you cope with that? I struggled to understand it, comprehend it, accept it, believe it."
Mr Doig still has days when the realisation hits him that he will never see his son again. "I imagine he's just overseas and will come home. Then I realise three years is too long, and he's never coming home."
In contrast, he says his son's killer lives on, albeit in prison. "We're too soft. We're giving people second chances when we shouldn't."
Rita Croskery - mother of murdered pizza deliverer Michael Choy - has also lent her voice to the campaign. Michael was brutally murdered nearly four years ago by six thugs, including this country's youngest killer, Bailey Junior Kurariki.
"Life is just never, ever going to be the same. I've always accepted that," she said. "But it's not getting any better. It's getting worse, because these people are coming up for parole." Mrs Croskery wants parole abolished so criminals serve full sentences.
Sensible Sentencing Trust spokesman Garth McVicar said the "Victims before Criminals" campaign was intended to put pressure on political parties to toughen sentencing laws.
He said the trust would decide whether to endorse any one political party closer to the election, depending on what policies on law and order the Government announces.
"If they don't go far enough, then we'll definitely advise people who we think they should vote for."
The trust has been lobbying political parties for the past three years to make changes to the justice system, such as abolishing parole for repeat violent offenders, making sentencing consecutive rather than concurrent, and pushing for "life" to mean "life".
The trust plans to extend the campaign to billboard and TV advertising using money donated by the business sector and money it hopes to raise.
Mr McVicar established the Sensible Sentencing Trust four years ago to try to ensure victims of crime get a better deal from the justice system.
- HERALD ON SUNDAY