Teen who killed Arun Kumar has prison term slashed

By Jimmy Ellingham

Arun Kumar was stabbed in his west Auckland dairy. Photo / Supplied
Arun Kumar was stabbed in his west Auckland dairy. Photo / Supplied

The prison term imposed on a teenage killer has been slashed and the boy could be free before the end of the year.

Last year the boy, then aged 14 and whose name is suppressed, was found guilty of the manslaughter of Arun Kumar at his Railside Dairy in Henderson in 2014.

The jury in the High Court at Auckland cleared the boy of murder and another boy of manslaughter.

Justice Graham Lang sentenced the boy to six years' jail but in a decision released today, the Court of Appeal has cut that to four-and-a-half years.

The Appeal Court also quashed the minimum sentence of three years and three months, instead leaving it up the the Parole Board to decide when the boy can be released.

"Based on our proposed sentence of four-and-a-half years' imprisonment, [the boy] would be eligible for parole after 18 months. That would be around the end of this year or early next year when [he] will be 16, or almost 16," Justices Helen Winkelmann, Forrest Miller and John Wild said in their written decision.

The reduced sentence came as the Court of Appeal agreed with the boy's lawyer, Maria Pecotic, that when he was calculating his sentence, Justice Lang didn't place enough weight on a brain injury the boy suffered.

When the boy was 8 he was hit by a taxi driving at 50 km/h and thrown 4m through the air. He suffered bruising on the brain, a fractured skull and a seizure. Justice Lang said the jury's murder acquittal took this into account.

At the time of the killing, the boy was addicted to synthetic cannabis. He was living at his mum's house, that was "frequented by drug dealers and users", according to the Appeal Court judgment.

On June 10, 2014, the boy and his accomplice entered Mr Kumar's dairy and demanded money. The boy brandished a knife.

As Mr Kumar bent down to pick up a pole on the floor, the boy stabbed him several times.

Mr Kumar then tried to push the boy outside. As the boy tried to break free he stabbed Mr Kumar in the neck, in what proved a fatal blow.

Other aspects of Ms Pecotic's appeal were rejected, including that Justice Lang didn't give the boy enough of a sentence discount for his youth and prospects of rehabilitation.

Reports presented to the court said the boy held a "hopeful attitude towards his future" and wanted to do NCEA levels one and two.

- NZ Herald

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