The 32-year-old, jailed yesterday for five years, will have his first parole hearing in December.

Ewen Macdonald will be eligible for parole before Christmas.

The 32-year-old, jailed yesterday for five years, will have his first parole hearing in December.

He must serve one third of his prison term, but has already been behind bars for 17 months so will be eligible for a parole hearing in just over three months.

Garth McVicar, of the Sensible Sentencing Trust, said last night that the sentence sent "all the wrong messages".

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"We believe if there was ever a case for consecutive sentences, this was it." The arson charges alone could have kept Macdonald behind bars longer, he said.

He also didn't believe Macdonald should have got any discount for his guilty plea.

"He waited until the last minute [to confess] until he was nailed by [Callum] Boe and the evidence was overwhelming."

Board spokeswoman Sonja de Friez said 90 per cent of all offenders were declined parole at their first hearing date, which was generally an opportunity to assess an offender in terms of what rehabilitation they needed in prison. And although Macdonald was eligible for parole, he may still have to serve his full sentence.

At his sentencing yesterday, it emerged Macdonald had written a letter to apologise for the hurt and fear he caused his victims - but that failed to convince Justice Simon France, who said he had "seen and heard no sign of remorse".

Macdonald wrote that he was ashamed, and hoped it would be looked upon favourably.

It wasn't.

Justice France told the sentencing hearing in the High Court at Palmerston North that he had had the benefit of seeing Macdonald's admissions during his videotaped interviews with police.

They were made while he was being investigated for the murder of his brother-in-law Scott Guy - a charge for which he was arrested and then acquitted at a trial this year.

He confessed to six crimes, and yesterday was jailed for a total of five years for them.

Justice France said those admissions came after the weight of evidence became apparent, and he "saw and heard no remorse".

"I have had regard to your initial denials, and the manner of them, and then also to your subsequent admissions to this offending, and the manner of them. I saw and heard no sign of remorse; indeed, if anything, the statements were consistent with continuing indifference."

Crown prosecutor Paul Murray said the offending, except the deer poaching, was motivated by vengeance.

He said Macdonald told a probation officer the retribution against farmer Paul Barber was justified.

"Each offence derives from a sense of entitlement and one that still seems to exist now," he said.

In that case - furious that he had been caught poaching - Macdonald killed 19 calves with a hammer blow to the head, after he emptied thousands of dollars of milk from a vat from Mr Barber's neighbour Graeme Sexton.

Mr Barber's milk vat was empty, which is why the calves became the target. "Rather than being deterred, you decided on a much more callous and brutal revenge," the judge said.

Mr Sexton felt the wrath of Macdonald and Boe, his accomplice, because Macdonald believed Mr Sexton had told people about the poaching of stags over many years, when he fired shots close to Mr Sexton's home that unsettled the Sexton family.

A year later, he returned to the Sexton farm and burned down a "treasured" old whare, a crime the family believed was done because he knew it would hurt them.

But it was the crimes against Scott Guy and his wife, Kylee, that were "personal and done with the intention to unsettle", the court heard.

In those attacks, he burned down an old home that was waiting to be moved from the Guys' property and wrote "horrible insults" on the walls of the couple's near-new home, which was extensively vandalised.

"The impact on them and the wider family, including your own, was significant ... The offending impacted significantly on Mr and Mrs Guy, as one would expect, but the impact went wider than that and impacted all your wider family."

Especially hurt were his parents-in-law, Bryan and Jo Guy, who "provided you with so much".

When he walked into the court, Macdonald smiled at his legal team and mouthed the words, "Good morning", to them, then looked quickly to the gallery, where his parents, Kerry and Marlene, were seated.

Defence lawyer Greg King argued that Macdonald had shown remorse, and pointed to his wife Anna's evidence at the trial, where she told of a changed man who had been making an effort to get along with Scott and Kylee Guy.

"He said in his letter [to the court] that he hated the person he had become, and the reality of the extent of harm and hurt he caused was instrumental for him turning his life around. ... These were all the actions of a person who realised that idiot he'd become."

Guy family

"Today is yet another reminder of how one person's actions have affected everyone in our family.

"The sentencing today does not give us closure or satisfaction.

"It is simply a reminder that there are consequences for the decisions that Ewen made.

"One consequence is that Ewen is no longer part of our day-to-day lives. He has lost our trust and has hurt us deeply and shaken the values which our family hold dear.

"However, the turmoil we have been through has brought our immediate family closer together, and it is our future that we now focus on."

The sentences
* Theft of stag - 9 months in jail
* Intentional damage (milk vat) - 9 months
* Intentional damage (killing calves) - 1 year
* Arson (burning the whare) - 2 years

Against Scott and Kylee Guy:
* Arson - 3 years
* Vandalism and graffiti - 2 years

* Total cumulative sentence - 5 years

* Eligible for parole - December 2012