During the samurai sword murderer's ' />

Antonie Ronnie Dixon did not bother getting a special haircut for his sentencing to 20 years' jail yesterday.

During the samurai sword murderer's trial in the High Court at Auckland, Dixon's hairstyle was the subject of much discussion, shaved almost to the crown of his head, leaving a mad mop of dark locks.

His eyes would roll as he stared wide-eyed about courtroom 12, the city's biggest.

Yesterday, there was none of that.

His haircut was, well, normal. It would not raise an eyebrow, let alone a doubt about the wearer's sanity.

The jury did not accept Dixon's defence that he was insane when, in January 2003, he hacked girlfriend Renee Gunbie and former girlfriend Simonne Butler almost to death, murdered stranger James Te Aute, shot at police and invaded a couple's home, kidnapping occupant Ian Miller.

Nor did Justice Judith Potter. When she got to the mitigating factors, she said firmly: "There are none".

She sent him down for a minimum of two decades, ending up - after traversing all the factors - where Crown Solicitor Simon Moore had begun the hearing by recommending at least 20 years behind bars.

Dixon will be 57 before he is up for release.

The sentence puts him in infamous company: Mark Lundy, minimum 20 years for the tomahawk murders of his wife and daughter; Joseph Sam Samoa and William Logan Johansson, the brains behind Ese Falealii's murders of a pizza worker and a bank teller, 22 years; Bruce Howse, 25 years for the murders of his two step-daughters; William Bell, 30 years for murdering three people and leaving another for dead at the Mt Wellington RSA in 2001.

There was barely a murmur when the judge passed sentence yesterday.

The public gallery was full of interested parties: police from the investigation team, jury members, and some whose lives have been inexorably altered by what Dixon did during 16 hours on the night of January 21, 2003 and early the next day.

Even Dixon held his tongue, though he had earlier made two unofficial submissions. As Mr Moore tallied the extensive debit side of the case, and submitted it was irrelevant whether Dixon had a severe personality disorder, the prisoner's head popped above the dock.

"You don't want to know credit, mate," Dixon called. "You don't give a shit."

And, as Mr Moore finished his submissions: "Bring back the electric chair. Let's do it," Dixon sang, to his own applause.

Later, defence lawyer Barry Hart told reporters the sentence was "manifestly excessive" given Dixon's mental state, and would be appealed along with conviction.

"To treat him as though he was a normal person is just not on."

Mr Hart said the jury might not have accepted that Dixon, who had taken the drug P, was insane, but that did not mean he did not have mental disorders.

The conviction has been seen as a signal that the use of P alone is insufficient for a defence of insanity. New Zealand law has no defence of diminished responsibility whereby factors such as drug use and personality disorders may be taken into account.

Inquiry head Detective Inspector Bernie Hollewand was pleased it was over.

"We have had to tip-toe around his [Dixon's] rights. Now he has been sentenced we can talk about the people that were affected, the bravery, the heroic acts."

Kathie Hills, Ms Gunbie's mother, with a comforting arm round James Te Aute's widow, Julie Cropley, said she was pleased with the sentence but hoped a way could be found to ensure Dixon did no more harm when released.

Ms Cropley's response was simple: "It won't bring James back."

This was her James, with whom she had fallen in love when they were teenagers 10 years ago and to whom she has three children, all under 10.

Dixon fired 10 bullets into Mr Te Aute's back with a single squeeze of his homemade machinegun.

A defence suggestion that Dixon might have acted in self-defence was rejected by the judge, who said Mr Te Aute was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Dixon had killed him as part of his plan to orchestrate a showdown so he could commit "suicide by cop".

Justice Potter: "By an action which took just 0.6s you ... killed this young man so you could be the centre of attention in a confrontation with police as you had planned."

How does Ms Cropley regard Dixon? "There are no words I have for the guy," she said quietly. "I hate him. Fullstop."

Neither Ms Gunbie nor Ms Butler came to court. "[Renee] hasn't shown any interest in the case or Tonie [Dixon]," said Ms Hills. "She doesn't give him the time of day."

Ms Hills said her daughter, who lost a hand in the sword attack and suffered head injuries from hammer blows, was getting on with life.

"She hasn't allowed her disability to hinder her."

Rodger Reekers came to hear the sentence, "to finish a long wait". A mechanic, he worked on Dixon's "fast cars", had known him 15 years and had arrived, with Ms Butler, at Dixon's home in Pipiroa near Thames, in the midst of it all.

Mr Reekers said he did what he could, talking Dixon out of chopping the heads off the motionless women and stuffing them in the letterbox.

"It rips me up," said Mr Reekers, who thinks he was not attacked because Dixon saw him as a friend.

He said the sentence was fair and the jury was right about Dixon: "He's a bit twisted but not insane."

The human impact of crime spree

The women whose hands Antonie Dixon severed with a samurai sword did not consent to victim-impact reports but others did.

Noting what some had gone through because of Dixon's actions, Justice Judith Potter told him he had "little insight into the suffering of others or interest in it".

Constable Eugene Gage, whom Dixon fired a shot at, felt anger. Dixon was the first person to point a gun at him.

Sergeant David Templeton, whose car was hit three times by shots fired by Dixon, was very fortunate not to be hit. One bullet hit the sill of the driver's door. He had sleeping problems and suffered increased workplace stress.

Karen Power, whose home was invaded by Dixon, said her experience continues to affect the way she lives. "To have a gun put to my head is a feeling of fear that will never leave me."

Ian Miller, kidnapped and held for four hours by Dixon, said it was everyone's worst nightmare, "a surreal experience which will live with me forever".

Renee Gunbie's mother Kathie Hills said her daughter and Simonne Butler were busy getting on with their lives.

"The justice system needs to go through its course and the girls have chosen not to be part of it.

"They don't need to revisit. They are both very positive and very strong women, which is reflected in the fact that they survived such an horrendous attack."

Ms Butler's hand was reattached.

What Dixon got

* Murder of James Te Aute. Life with 20 years' minimum non-parole.
* On each of two charges of wounding Simonne Butler and Renee Gunbie with intent. Jail for 12 years.
* Kidnapping Ian Miller. Jail for eight years.
* On each of two charges of shooting at policemen David Templeton and Paul Scott. Jail for five years.
* On a charge of shooting at policeman Eugene Gage. Jail for four years.
* Aggravated burglary. Five years