There have been lengthy jail terms for three men convicted of charges stemming from the death of Kinloch man Scott John Henry on July 20 last year.

On August 20 this year a jury in the High Court at Hamilton found Whakapumautanga "Cookie" Clarke 25, guilty of 48-year-old Henry's murder and aggravated robbery.

In the High Court at Rotorua today Justice Sarah Katz sentenced him to life imprisonment on the charges. He must serve at least 17 years before he is eligible to apply for parole.

Clarke's accomplices Cody Griffin, 25, and Daniel Chase, 22, were also jailed, Griffin for 10 years, nine months and Chase for eight years and one month.

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The Hamilton jury found Griffin not guilty of murder but guilty of Henry's manslaughter and of a related aggravated robbery charge.

Chase, who'd been acquitted of the murder or manslaughter charges, was given a lesser sentence of eight years and one month on the aggravated robbery charge he was found guilty of but has a minimum non-parole period of four years and two weeks' imprisonment.

Whakapumatanga Clarke (left), Daniel Chase, and Cody Griffin were sentenced in the High Court at Rotorua. Photo / Stephen Parker
Whakapumatanga Clarke (left), Daniel Chase, and Cody Griffin were sentenced in the High Court at Rotorua. Photo / Stephen Parker

Griffin has no minimum period of imprisonment because he had already been issued with the first of a three-strikes warning, which makes him ineligible for parole.

In the case of each convicted man this related to taking Henry's backpack which evidence pointed to containing drugs and cash.

The verdicts came at the end of a two-week trial during which witnesses recounted how the trio had gone to Henry's Whangamata Rd home, Kinloch, on the outskirts of Taupō. Within 30 seconds of their arrival a shot rang out.

Henry's son told of finding his father lying prone with blood coming out of his mouth. He dragged his father inside.

He told Crown solicitor Amanda Gordon during the trial he had a "fair idea" his father was dead.

He admitted he was aware his father dealt in methamphetamine and marijuana but kept them away from his children.

Before sentencing began Justice Katz told those in the near-capacity public gallery she knew tensions sometimes ran high at sentencing.

She emphasised she was aware murder victim Scott John Henry's family were deeply grieving and that supporters of the men in the dock were there to offer them aroha, however she urged those on both sides of the case to respect the mana of the court.

A victim impact statement from Henry's mother, Jan Henry, read to the court described her loss as unbearable and something she will have to endure for the rest of her life.

She told of the wonderful father and uncle he was to his children, nieces and nephews. She acknowledged she was aware her son dealt in drugs but that did not diminish her anger and feeling of being bereft at losing her first-born child.

"I had the privilege and honour of being his mother for almost 50 years before he was senselessly and cruelly taken from me, the emptiness will remain until the day I die.

"He was the most amazing son there will forever be an empty chair at our table when our family celebrate birthdays and Christmas together," Mrs Henry said.

"He died violently and needlessly, it haunts me whether he knew her was dying as he lay on the wet ground on a stormy night."

She said she had found it very offensive Mongrel Mob members in the public gallery at the August trial in the High Court at Hamilton, smirked and passed.

"These people are not part our community, they have chosen not to live in our community and live by the standards we do.

"They will serve their time and go home and take up their lives, Scott will never go back to his family - never ever."

Thanking her for the statement Justice Katz described it as very powerful and moving noting she had received others which all emphasised what a loving, caring father and family member he had been.

Crown solicitor Amanda Gordon argued for a minimum period of imprisonment be no less than 17 years for Clarke who would automatically be sentenced to life imprisonment for Henry's murder.

His lawyer, Max Simpkins, did not take issue with that however, he asked the judge take into account the remorse Clarke had expressed in a letter to the court and through him, as defence counsel.

"It may not mean much to them at present but he is remorseful, has apologies for the trauma he has caused the Henry family," Simpkins said.

He outlined how Clarke had started smoking cannabis when he was 9, and had been expelled from school for smoking it. He had turned to anti social behaviour which included growing cannabis with his father. He had left his culture behind him, depriving himself of the positive aspects of that culture.

Opening his submissions Chase's lawyer, Bill Lawson, said he pointed out for the benefit of the public what he would be saying wasn't an attempt to excuse his client's offending but was intended to emphasise his level of culpability.

When Chase had gone to Henry's property he didn't know the firearm taken there was loaded, in a letter to the court he had shown genuine remorse and insight into his offending.

He pressed for a six- to seven-year period of imprisonment as opposed to the 10 years the Crown sought.

For Griffin, John Munro argued for a eight-and-a-half to nine-year starting point when his sentence was determined saying he hadn't been the one to pull the trigger of the gun that felled Henry.

Outlining the facts of the case Justice Katz said the three men, all Mongrel Mob members, had carried out a planned armed robbery on July 20 last year intending to steal drugs and money.

All three had known a shotgun was going to be used and at least Griffin and Clarke knew it was loaded.

The three had gone to Henry's remote rural property where he lived in a shed with his partner and adult son. They wore disguises over their lower faces.

When Henry's partner came out of the outside toilet-shower block they confronted her and demanded to know where Henry was.

One was left to watch over her while the others went to look for him, spotting him coming towards them. Almost immediately a shot rang out, hitting Henry in the chest. The trio sped off, leaving him for dead.

They had made for the Pureora Forest with a female accomplice they'd demanded show them the way to Henry's home. She was made to get out of the car and the bag of drugs and money they'd stolen was dumped there.

Meanwhile, Henry's partner had fled into the cold winter's night, when she was found hours later she on the verge of hypothermia.

His son had arrived soon after the shooting, had attempted CPR but it was too late to save his father.

She said she dismissed counsels' claims the armed robbery hadn't been a home invasion, because the bag of drugs and money had been taken from inside Henry's dwelling,

Referring to the men individually the judge said at age 14, Chase had gone to live with his father, the president of the Mongrel Mob's Taupo chapter, coming under the influence of the gang environment and philosophy. Although his father had attempted to discourage him, he'd become a fully patched gang member.

He had 26 previous convictions and was considered at a high risk of re-offending.

Justice Katz noted Griffin had not been the shooter but had detained his partner.

"You didn't realise he [Henry] would be shot and killed, the agreed plan was to rob him, however the shotgun and ammunition belonged to you, you provided it to Clarke."

Referring to Clarke she emphasised he had already been issued with the first of a three strikes warning which meant he must serve life imprisonment on the murder charge without being able to apply for parole.

He too had "hung out" with anti-social friends gravitating to alcohol and drugs in his teenage years, his long list of previous convictions included three for unlawfully possessing firearms. He had become a patched Mongrel Mob member at 18.

Justice Katz indicated she gave little weight to his expression of remorse.

During sentencing she said she had some concerns about cultural reports she'd been provided with, saying they appeared to have been written to a template.

The suggested penalty for Chase and Clarke had been a community-based sentence running through to 2020.

"The assumption appears to have been you faced lesser charges, I assume they [Wera Consultants who compiled the reports] didn't know murder was involved."

All three had been charged with murder but only Clarke was convicted of it.