Two men found guilty of burning another man alive for his life savings have had their appeal thrown out by the Supreme Court.
Shivneel Kumar, 20, and Bryne Permal, 22, were found guilty of killing Shalvin Prasad, whose smouldering body was found on a rural South Auckland road on the morning of January 31, 2013.
Both were convicted and sentenced to life in jail with a minimum period of 17 years' imprisonment.
In a Supreme Court decision released today, Justices William Young, Terence Arnold and Mark O'Regan rejected the men's appeals of their sentences.
The men were arguing that their previous unsuccessful attempt to have their sentences appealed through the Court of Appeal was incorrect.
They stated that they did not mean to kill Prasad and that it should not have been up to a jury to decide what their intentions were.
Kumar also argued that the judge who ruled over their trial, Justice Geoffrey Venning, had sentenced them incorrectly and Permal argued that Justice Venning had given poor advice to the jury.
However, their arguments did not fly with the Supreme Court judges, who found:
"In the present case, there is no important issue of general principle, nor is there plainly a substantial miscarriage of justice.
"In these circumstances, the applications for leave to appeal are dismissed."
The grisly murder
On January 30, the victim withdrew $30,050 in $100 and $50 bills from a Manukau bank at the request of Kumar, who waited outside.
Crown prosecutor Aaron Perkins said the pair "considered a sum of money was worth more than Mr Prasad's life".
Despite them both being charged with murder, Perkins fingered Kumar as "the instigator and driving force" behind the crime.
He said on the night of January 30, Prasad met the two defendants and was driven through South Auckland.
The Crown said the victim was assaulted at an unknown location and bundled into the boot of Permal's mother's car, driven by Kumar.
The defendants then bought 15 litres of petrol, using the stolen money, before driving to McRobbie Rd in Kingseat, where they doused the victim in petrol and set him alight.
Medical witnesses gave evidence that Prasad was conscious when the fire was ignited.
In the days after the murder, Kumar spent thousands of dollars on his car and paying off various debts and on February 2 he and Permal went shopping together.
Store records showed they got tattoos, watches and T-shirts totalling nearly $2000.
Large sums were also deposited into bank accounts linked to Kumar.
The 21-year-old's charred remains were found early the next day by a woman walking her dog.
- Additional reporting Rob Kidd