Fatal robbery jail terms 'far too light'

The mother of a woman whose partner was killed in a home invasion attack in southeast Auckland in 2006 says the sentences imposed on two people convicted of manslaughter were too light.

Paul Junior Grace, 26, was jailed for nine years and Annette Louise Elaine Heta, 30, for 8 years for the manslaughter of Jason Noe Kai Chong Boon on November 18, 2006.

Both were also given a concurrent jail sentence of four years on a charge of assault with intent to rob.

In the High Court at Auckland, Justice Helen Winkelmann sentenced Grace to a minimum non-parole period of four years. Heta was given no minimum non-parole term.

A third accused, Guy Nicholas Wilson, 36, who was found guilty of murder and assault with intent to rob when the trio stood trial last year, has had his sentencing delayed until July.

Mr Boon, a methamphetamine dealer, was tied up, gagged and beaten. He died from asphyxiation. The three were captured by police at the scene after Mr Boon's girlfriend, Janny-Lee Brussow, called police from her mobile phone in a locked bathroom where she and the couple's 3-year-old daughter were hiding.

Ms Brussow's mother, who did not wish to be named, said the sentence was far too light, especially for Heta.

"At the end of the day she gets to go home to her little 5-year-old and my 5-year-old granddaughter doesn't have a father," she said outside court.

Justice Winkelmann said during sentencing that Ms Brussow was under great stress and found sleeping difficult. Her daughter was now terrified of adults and had great difficulty with communication.

Ms Brussow's mother said she believed Heta was more culpable than Grace and had hoped she would be found guilty of murder last year.

But Justice Winkelmann ruled that Heta and Grace had a similar culpability, though Wilson was regarded as the instigator and the person responsible for the injuries which killed Mr Boon. All three had gone to the Botany Downs address.

Justice Winkelmann said Heta helped gain entry to the address by knocking on the door, after which Wilson, assisted by Grace, restrained Mr Boon. Once he was restrained and assaulted, Grace picked up car keys and Heta a mobile phone before trying to escape.

Crown lawyer Kirsten Lummis had asked for 12-year jail sentences with a six-year minimum non-parole period.

Grace's lawyer Mark Edgar said Grace was a follower who found it difficult to break free of Wilson's influence, and Justice Winkelmann requested prison authorities to keep Grace well away from Wilson.

The Crown is seeking a sentence of preventive detention for Wilson.

- NZPA

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