Category Archives: Sensible Sentencing

Five years, and change for incinerating a man alive

I have heard often that as we get older we become more conservative, considered, careful even.  I see that I don’t fit that model very well.  I have always had my moral, philosophical compass awry in many ways.  As a member of a conservative christian group I refused to sign a petition that was advocating to continue to criminalize homosexual behavior and yet I was willing to call sex outside of marriage immoral.  I find myself with many different positions on morality, that which is crime and as to sex outside of marriage….  I don’t believe in the death penalty but I think life imprisonment should mean life.  I read constantly of cases in New Zealand where it is my earnest belief that the judiciary are just on another planet.  The case of the killing of Terry Martin Smith is stark evidence of a system that is cancerous, it needs swift treatment, excision radiation or chemo it matters not it needs to be attacked and dealt to quickly.  A very quick summary, two men accused another of being a paedophile.  Shay Barry Webster, and Jason Alistor Barr accused Mr Smith of sexual interest in children, they then poured petrol on him and then set him on fire.  They wer not chrged with murder as the crown did not think they could prove murderous intent

Webster and Barr were drunk at the time, they pleaded guilty to manslaughter and they were sentenced to 6 years imprisonment of this they must serve two years and six months.  If this were not true it would be a scene in a comedy show, the central clown is the Judge and the Sideshow Bob is the Crown who did not charge these upstanding gentleman who between them have amassed over 100 convictions with murder.  I admit I am not in full possession of the facts, nor am I a lawyer however, I do know they could have been charged with murder and or manslaughter.  One of these killers is 22 years old, there is a high chance they will re-offend when they are released from prison, many of these convictions are for crimes of violence.  It matters not whether Terry Smith was a paedophile (however in this case he was not)  extra judicial justice of this kind is no different to the the necklaces of South Africa or the knee cappings of Northern Ireland.

The problem with this incident is that it is not isolated.  Justice Maunders has got it so wrong that I do not believe he should be on the bench.  If you pour petrol all over someone then pull out a lighter and flick it someone is going to die. The unfortunate thing here is that the killers did not spill any petrol on themselves.  Allegedly they were too stupid to know that such an action would cause their victim to die and they did not intend to kill him, but they were careful enough not to set themselves on fire I presume.  Inebriation is not a defense against criminal behavior.  I can only think that perhaps the judge was inebriated when he handed the sentence down.  Justice Maunders in one foul swoop has re-victimized Terry Smith’s family.  He has effectively told them that this was a misdemeanor conducted by a pair of naughty boys who made a stupid mistake.  An ex policeman got 8 years jail for selling methamphetamine.  I know of a case where a man got 5 years for conspiracy to sell methamphetamine.  Don’t get me wrong I am not saying those jail terms are too harsh.  How is it that Justice Maunders can become so out of step with society that he can hand down such a pathetic sentence that in reality is a slap over the wrist with a wet bus ticket.  It is no small miracle that this pair didn’t get discharged without conviction.

This dislocation from the real world is a cancer and needs to be stopped.  Parliament needs to reveiw sentencing.  The laws around parole need to change their needs to be truth in sentencing and where life is taken there needs to be real and meaningful consequences.  If we stand by and wring our hands we are just as complicit as those who hand out such pathetic sentences.  We need to contact our politicians and tell them whet we think and demand that they do something about it. There are times when I am ashamed to be a New Zealander.  This is one of them.  There is no justice in this world, but there must be accountability.