A killer who teamed up with another drug underworld denizen to murder a small-time meth dealer has complained his jail sentence is too harsh.
James Taylor Martin Webby pleaded guilty to the murder of Alex Latimer in 2019.
It was a sadistic crime which a sentencing judge dubbed a "truly ghastly murder".
And the Court of Appeal has now said the sentencing judge got it right.
Latimer was lured to an address in Te Haroto, off the Napier-Taupō road, then attacked and told to dig his own grave.
Webby also admitted to aggravated robbery, arson and perverting the course of justice.
But he then appealed against his sentence, which was one of life imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of 17 years and nine months.
Webby and his co-offender David James Lothian had beaten up and robbed Latimer before, in early 2017 when Latimer said Lothian owed him money.
Latimer arrived at Lothian's Te Haroto house at about 3am one morning in September 2018.
There, an associate of Webby and Lothian met him.
A new Court of Appeal judgment showed the two killers then ambushed Latimer, beating his head and hitting him with a shovel.
"Mr Latimer went quiet and a shovel was then thrown at him and he was ordered to dig his own grave," Justice Robert Dobson previously told Webby in court.
"You then resumed your attack on him, with each of you kicking, punching and hitting him with the shovel."
Both attackers dug a shallow grave for Latimer.
Lothian stabbed Latimer many times in his back and side, telling Latimer he was going to die.
Latimer was robbed of pills, meth-smoking pipes, a bag of cannabis and some money.
A post-mortem found stab wounds and blunt force trauma to his face and chest killed him.
Lothian and Webby drove Latimer's car to a remote location and torched it, destroying it.
The Court of Appeal said Webby found out the associate who lured Latimer to the house had given information to police.
On a prison exercise yard wall, Webby dubbed the associate a "nark" and identified where he lived.
That led to a charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice.
Lothian was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of 20 years.
Justice Dobson said Lothian had done the stabbing and led Webby during the killing.
But he said the murder was "a two-man job" so Lothian and Webby could not have vastly different sentences.
Webby ended up with a 17 year, nine month minimum non-parole period. He said this was manifestly excessive, and it should have been nine months shorter.
But in its newly published judgment, the Court of Appeal said Justice Dobson was correct to take into account the brutality and callousness of the murder.
The appeal court also said Justice Dobson was right to point out that the murder happened in the course of aggravated robbery, another serious offence.
Webby's appeal was dismissed.