A man who brutally beat his 69-year-old neighbour to death and then, as she lay dying and unresponsive, sexually assaulted her twice, has been unsuccessful in his bid to appeal his sentence.

Jaden Lee Stroobant pleaded guilty to murdering the 69-year-old Cunxiu Tian in her family home in January 2016.

In May last year Justice Graham Lang sentenced Stroobant to life in prison for the murder, with a minimum non-parole period of 17 years for Tian's murder.

Jaden Lee Stroobant: The making of a murderer


For the sexual offending, which he said Stroobant has refused to properly recognise, he imposed a sentence of preventive detention.

Later in 2017 Stroobant appealed the sentence of preventive detention and his case was heard in October.

Stroobant's lawyer Emma Priest said the appeal was based on a number of factors, but mainly that the indefinite sentence of preventive detention was "crushing" to her young client.

"The imposition of preventive detention was out of line with all other cases and the exercise of the discretion was wrong in this case as a result," Priest told the Herald when the appeal was filed.

"In particular, his age, guilty plea and that he had never been offered substantive rehabilitative opportunities as his longest previous sentence was six months imprisonment."

Priest said the life sentence for murder was adequate as a penalty for Stroobant's, and the addition of preventive detention was unnecessary.

She said Stroobant's plea of guilty to the sexual offending was evidence that he took responsibility for his crime.

Priest submitted that the court failed to consider Stroobant's young age and "limited" criminal history when sentencing him.


She said preventive detention hindered Stroobant seeking rehabilitation opportunities in prison and left him feeling hopeless about the future.

His methamphetamine use had also been overlooked, Priest argued.

She said there was a link between methamphetamine use and risk taking, and a strong link between methamphetamine use and increased sexual interest, sexual risk taking and reckless or unsafe sexual behaviour.

Those factors had not been properly factored into Justice Lang's sentence.

Cunxiu Tian, 69, who was found dead at her Te Atatu home in January 2016. Photo / Police
Cunxiu Tian, 69, who was found dead at her Te Atatu home in January 2016. Photo / Police

The Court of Appeal decision about Stroobant was released to the Herald this morning.

His appeal was dismissed.

In the decision Justice Brendan Brown said that the nature and function of a sentence of preventive detention was not to punish an offender - but to safeguard the community from that offender.

"Here, we note in particular the absence of insight on the part of Mr Stroobant into his sexual offending and his lack of empathy with his victims," said Justice Brown.

"We therefore consider that the sentence of preventive detention imposed by Justice Lang was the appropriate course in these circumstances."