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Convicted murderer Graeme Burton must remain behind bars for at least 26 years for the murder of one man and the attempted murder of two others while he was being hunted for breaching parole.

The sentencing, which the judge believed made criminal history in New Zealand, took place in the High Court at Wellington today.

Burton, who appeared in a wheelchair due to an amputated leg, is believed to be the first New Zealander to have been sentenced to jail twice for murder, although there have been others that have killed two or more people.

Justice Wild told Burton that his killing spree was comparable to some of the worst murders in New Zealand, like that of William Bell who killed three people in the Mt Wellington RSA and Mark Lundy who killed his wife and child.

Justice Wild told Burton: "Murder rarely comes much worse than your murder of Mr Kuchenbecker.

"Brutal, callous, violent, wanton are all accurate if inadequate descriptions of what you did.

"If there is such a thing as a standard or ordinary murder, then your murder of Mr Kuchenbecker is much worse."

Thirty-six-year-old Burton pleaded guilty to the charges which relate to an incident in Lower Hutt's eastern hills in January when he was being hunted by police for breaching his parole. He murdered Wainuiomata father Karl Kuchenbecker then attcked other mountain bikers before he was shot by police.

The violence was brought to an end when police shot Burton, resulting in part of one of his legs having to be amputated. As Burton was being moved from hospital to Rimutaka Prison, a guard was attacked.

Before Burton was sentenced, one of his victims Nick Rea read a statement to the court telling of his "shock and terror" when confronted by Burton.

Mr Rea and his daughter Kate were mountainbiking in the hills when they were attacked by a rampaging Burton.

Mr Rea told the court he feared for the safety of Kate.

He said his life had been completely change since that day being reminded of what happened every time he passed the scene or look at a mountain bike.

Security was tight for today's sentencing. Burton was transferred from Rimutaka Prison to Auckland Prison, after fighting broke out at the weekend.

Burton was transferred to Paremoremo maximum security prison following a nine-hour rampage at Rimutaka Prison, in Upper Hutt.

He was one of eight inmates involved in a "mini-riot", during which the men smashed windows, threatened prison guards and lit fires.

After the sentence, Karl Kuchenbecker's father, Paul said it was hard to believe any sentence was tough enough.

"I think the sentence will never be harsh enough for what he did to my son."

Mountainbikers Jeremy Simpson and Karl Holmes, who Burton tried to kill on his rampage, said they were pleased another part of their ordeal was over.

"This experience has been very traumatic and will stay with us forever," they said in a joint statement.

"We have both suffered serious injuries as a result of gun shot wounds and now want to concentrate on healing and getting our lives back to normal."

They thanked all those who had helped and supported them.

They said they did not want to talk about their ordeal.

Toughest Sentences

Burton joins the roll of New Zealand's longest-term prisoners with his sentence of at least 26 years in jail - he ranks third on the list.

Highest top 10 non-parole periods, in ranking order:

* Feb 2003 - William Bell, 25, jailed for a minimum non-parole period of 33 years, that had been decreased to 30 years on appeal, for killing three people at the Mt Wellington-Panmure Returned Services Association on December 8, 2001.

* Dec 2002 - Bruce Thomas Howse, 40, 28 years non-parole on his life sentence for the murders of his stepdaughters Saliel Aplin and Olympia Jetson in their Masterton sleepout on December 4, 2001. The sentence was decreased to 25 years on appeal.

* April 2007 - Convicted double killer Graeme Burton given n a sentence of preventive detention with a non-parole period of 26 years, after pleading guilty to all 11 charges arising from his rampage on Wainuiomata Hill in January, which left quad biker Karl Kuchenbecker dead and four others injured.

* Aug 1995 - Joseph Stephenson Thompson, 37, the south Auckland serial rapist, 25 years non-parole for the rape and sexual assault of women and girls over a 12-year period.

* July 1998 - Malcolm Rewa, non parole period of 22 years on his preventive detention sentence for a series of sex offences between 1987 and 1995. Rewa pleaded guilty to raping six women, but a jury later found guilty of raping 13 others.

* June 2006 - David Konia, 53, sentenced to a minimum of 20 years imprisonment for stabbing to death two elderly Feilding friends after they didn't shout him a drink.

* May 2005 - Antonie Dixon given life sentence with a 20-year, non-parole term for the murder of James Te Aute in Auckland and an enraged sword attack on Simonne Butler and Renee Gunbie at Pipiroa near Thames in January, 2003.

* Aug 2002 - Mark Lundy, 20 years non-parole, that was increased from 17 years on appeal, on his life sentence for killing wife Christine and seven-year-old daughter Amber in August 2000.

* Oct 2006 - Anthony Paul Doyle, who blasted a couple to death with a shotgun under a bridge near Tauranga after a dispute over a drug debt, sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of 19 years.

* Sept 2004 - Chinese student Wen Hui Cui, 23, found guilty of murdering his estranged girlfriend and one of her friends in Auckland in 2003, and jailed for a minimum of 19 years.

Sentencing changes

New sentencing and parole laws came into force in July 2004.

Among the key changes:

* the minimum non-parole period for the worst murderers increased from 10 to 17 years;

* the worst offenders have to wait up to three years between parole applications instead of automatically applying each year;

* the abolition of automatic release at two thirds of a sentence for serious violent offenders;

* preventive detention available for a wider range of sexual and violent offending.

- NZPA / NEWSTALK ZB / NZ HERALD STAFF