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Non-parole period for Karen Aim’s killer

  • March 26th, 2009

Parliament set the mid-point for murder sentencing at 17 years. What kind of murderers has Justice Lang come across to reach the view that Karen Aim’s vicious little killer can be free in 12.5 years, in his mid 20s?

What lead the judge to think the public will be safe from Jahche Broughton when he is  free at the age at which Karen Aim was killed by him?

The truth is that judges have been breaching the sentencing law with government connivance since it was passed in 2002. A graph of sentencing would show that there is no normal distribution within the range, which Phil Goff’s Sentencing Act purported to require.

Instead it will look like a ski jump, ending well short of Parliament’s maximum, which the worst offenders in each category are supposed to serve.

Comments

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  • Jim Maclean
  • March 26th, 2009
  • 9:02 pm

This guy got a free violent assault on a girl two weeks before the murder. It frustrates me that governments think we are so foolish as not to understand these games. The referendum made it very clear what it is that the public wanted. Once someone has proven themselves to be a grave danger to society, the would be kept out of it! Not for a wee while, not for a bit longer but kept out of it until they were no longer a danger. I don’t consider a tough angry ex jailbird of thirty years old no danger and I will vote accordingly in the next election.

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  • MikeNZ
  • March 27th, 2009
  • 1:26 am

Up to now vigilantism hasn’t been a problem here.
But with the perception that Justice is not being done that will change in some places and groups.
300 hrs community service in Queenstown for planning and committing attempted burglary and robbery.
it sends the wrong message to the public.

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  • Chuck Bird
  • March 27th, 2009
  • 10:13 am

I intent on making one relating the the sentence for murder. My submission would recommend natural life or 99 years as a starting point. That would not mean that all or most murders would receive this maximum penalty. What it would mean is that the defence would have to argue mitigating factors at the start instead of the prosecution arguing aggravating factors.

I watched the Darklands about Bell, the RSA murderer. I have seen most of the series. Most of these killers will be a danger to society if ever released. Natural life would allow the family to get some sort of closure. Having to repeatedly appear before a parole board every few years does not allow closure.

The ten year minimum should be for cases like when one finds out someone in a position of trust has molested their children and it is certain beyond a doubt and takes the law into their own hands.

Under current legislation there is no way the judge could have given Karen Aimís killer what he deserves as it would be out of sync with the likes of Bell and his ilk but 12.5 year is totally inadequate.

Another recommendation I would make is for the jury to be encouraged to make recommendation to the Court which would be made public. Judges reasoning for the sentence should be made public unless the family objects.

There should be no legal aid available to appeal a murder sentence. Natural life should be the sentence and any reduction should be considered a privilege not a right. The restriction on legal should only apply to appeals against the sentence not the conviction.

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  • Alan Aim
  • March 27th, 2009
  • 5:54 pm

2 words – Death penalty

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  • Michele Wilkinson-Smith
  • March 27th, 2009
  • 8:35 pm

Jahche Broughton’s sentence is not 12.5 years – it is life imprisonment. He will never be free of this sentence and will only be paroled at the first available opportunity if he makes remarkable progress in prison. He is subject to parole conditions for the rest of his life and if he offends ever again after release can be recalled to serve his life sentence. The other murderers which Justice Lang was aware of were Renee O’Brien aged 14, Alexander Peihopa aged 15 and 3 others aged 16 who all got 10 or 11 year minimum non parole periods. As a society we do treat the criminals bettre than they treat us – and so we should. Who aspires to live by their standards?

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  • Jim Maclean
  • March 28th, 2009
  • 10:26 am

With respect to Michele Wilkinson-Smith, although technically Jahche’s sentence may appear to be life in fact it is simply not so and most of the public know this.
Before a murderer can be recalled to prison they must commit another serious offence. Just committing an offence is not enough of course, as one is innocent in the eyes of the law if found not guilty so they need to be convicted of the offence…..
While they are awaiting trial (innocent until proven guilty) they cannot be punished for something that in law they might not have done so they must be allowed to remain free in most cases and in the event that they do get convicted of the further offence then the sentence imposed for THAT offence rather nullifies the supposed “life” sentence they are already serving.
The “life” sentence amounts to bluff. It simply does not exist in real terms, and the words “May” and “can’ are used as legalese to mean “this will never happen”.
I yearn for a day when the law is an expression of clear intent, where the courts simply say what they mean, and mean what they say. It is a point of pride that our Judges are hard working and uncorruptable, it remains a point of shame that political pressure to save costs of imprisonment mean that their words in sentencing amount to blatent but well meaning lies.

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  • Chuck Bird
  • March 28th, 2009
  • 11:16 am

He will never be free of this sentence and will only be paroled at the first available opportunity if he makes remarkable progress in prison.

Michelle, have you got any proof of the above statement? I suggest you either read or get a DVD of Beyond the Darklands by Nigel Latta. Many of the criminals who committed shocking murders were on parole at the time.

I am not familiar of the cases you mention but Jahche Broughton has many of the traits of the likes of William Bell. He pleaded guilty but is trying still to deny his guilt and he has shown little if any remorse.

I am not against parole in general as many are but in the case of this callous young killer I cannot see how the chance of him re-offending would be low enough to allow him out at 38 let alone 28.

Until parole can be adequately resourced and those suspected of breaking conditions of parole instantly recalled then violent offenders let alone murders should not be released on parole. We do not want any more cases or Graeme Burton or William Bell
.

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  • Michele Wilkinson-Smith
  • March 29th, 2009
  • 9:35 pm

Jim Mclean – it doesn’t have to be a serious offence to recall a convicted murderer to prison although I agree that in practice people are not ususally recalled for minor offending. Also , as parole is akin to bail and is a privilege, I believe recall can occur pending trial. As for Mr Bird’s comments it is a fact of law that a life sentence lasts for life so a convicted murderer is always in custody or on parole.That is why you can’t have a sentence that is cumulative on a life sentence. Automatic parole is a thing of the past and any practising criminal barrister ( which I am ) will tell you that parole at first opportunity is rare. I think you probably are familiar with the cases I mention – one is the Michael Choy murder case and the other is a case where a 14 year old girl hit a man 7 or 8 times on the head with a hammer in order to steal his car and then threw him unconcious but alive into the Waitara river. I was involved in the prosecution team for the Waitara case and the defence team for Broughton’s case.I agree completely that the system falls down when parole is not adequately resourced and parolees are not monitored – as in the case of Burton and probably Bell. At the moment parole is so badly resourced it is a joke. There is no real prospect of proper monitoring when staff have hundreds of files each to deal with. Money shouldn’t be decisive but it is a factor and it would be cheaper to resource probation better than to deal with the fallout of failing to do so – it would also be cheaper than keeping everyone in custody. The call for revenge driven justice seems pointless to me. Nobody can ever put right what a murderer has done. As for the deterrent effect of ever longer sentences we are in fact tougher on crime than we have been for the past 50 years. Until recently every convicted murderer was automatically paroled after 10 years – this comparative “softness” did not lead to a spate of horrific murders in the 60’s and 70’s . I do know that many criminals I deal with are impulsive and ill disciplined. You can deal with ” means to an end” crimes like agg robbery and meth dealing with deterrent sentences. We could get rid of our meth problem if we sentenced all dealers to a minimum 5 years regardless of amount and all cooks to 10 years minimum regardless of amount. The cost/ benefit factor is something that drug dealers and aggravated robbers take notice of in my experience.For violent dysfunctional youth the answer is I think much harder and not very PC – At least one but preferably two mature involved loving parents who put in the hard work teaching their small children about empathy and consequences.

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  • Chuck Bird
  • March 30th, 2009
  • 10:44 pm

Michelle, you raise some good points but failed to address my concern about the likes of Burton and Bell, particularly Burton. I do not know whether Burton got parole after his first or tenth try. He should not have got out. If someone is in jail for violence especially killing whether it murder or manslaughter they should not be paroled if they exhibit violent tendencies in jail. The violence should not have to be proved like in a court of law. If the prison authorities are confident that their sources are correct then the benefit of the doubt should be given to the public not the offender. Parole should be treated like a privilege not right.

I agree with you about the deterrent effect of jail on some offenders but the public is safe while they are behind bars. You also make a good point about the need for better resourcing for parole. However, there are certain offenders like Bell where no deterrent works and if they were adequately monitored there would still offend violently.

If you have not watched Beyond the Darklands by Nigel Latta you should. If they had someone like him on the parole board you would see a lot less dangerous offenders on parole. In Bellís case Latta reckoned that if Bell had not had such a shocking upbringing he probably still would have killed someone although maybe not so sadistically.

The problem with these low life killers even those with very low intelligence is they still have an animal cunning. Broughton has retracted his confession. However, when he comes up for parole he will acknowledge the killing and said whatever he thinks is necessary to get parole. It may be argued that 12.5 years is appropriate compared with other inadequate minimum sentences. However, unless Broughton has a genuine religious conversion lasting many years and behaves perfectly in prison he should not be let out before he is 60.

I do not believe I am calling for revenge driven justice but calling for public safety to be number one priority when considering parole.

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  • Michele Wilkinson-Smith
  • March 31st, 2009
  • 12:15 am

Burton and Bell are definately examples of offenders who should not be released until they are too old to offend if ever – but they are hard to spot until they have shown their true colours particularly someone like Bell who by all accounts had a charming facade. I’ve seen Nigel Latta’s programme and I’ve appeared at parole hearings – nothing like the criminal standard is required which I agree doesn’t explain how Burton was able to get parole although I understand that it has been accepted that the Parole board were not given all of the information available in respect of Burton. of course if Burton had been properly monitored and recalled the minute he breached he would not have been able to murder Karl Kuchenbeker. Tonight we have another example of a murder committed on bail – Haydyn Davis who murdered Augustine Borrell while on bail for aggravated robbery.I understand why Davis got bail for the agg rob. He was probably denying involvement and would not get a trial date for at least 18 months. If we could deliver trials within 6 months of arrest bail would be harder to get. But people are sometimes accused of things they haven’t done and what do you do when someone spends 2 years in jail and is then aquitted? Would you accept that as just the price we pay for public safety if you were a person wrongly accused? Again better monitoring would have put Davis back into custody. I think that there was a good legal argument to deny bail pending the mrder trial. Apart from the alleged offending on bail Davis did not deny stabbing Augustine Borrell. He was always going to prison either for murder or manslaughter so he might as well have started his sentence as a remand prisoner. But simply keeping everyone in custody until they are 70 in case they turn out like Burton or Bell will mean keeping a huge majority who do not pose any such risk. I think public safety could be improved by:
1. speedier trials
2. much better funding of probation so parole is properly monitored. If it costs $50,000 to keep a person in custody allocate $35,000 for the first year of parole and reduce the funding each year which passes without incident.
3. Recall for any breach however minor but aim to re- release on parole so that parolees adjust to resisting the temptations which exist on the outside. If they keep breaching or the breach suggests public safety issues keep them in custody.
4. Monitor all prisoners upon release regardless of whether they are on parole. Bailey Kurariki for example will soon no longer be on parole because his sentence will have finished( and there’s an example of someone who didn’t get parole at the first opportunity – he could have been released years ago)
Sorry this is so long – I find the issues fascinating. We do have to find the most cost effective way of keeping the public safe. We want public safety but we also want hospitals, roads and schooling and the justice dollar has to compete.

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  • Chuck Bird
  • March 31st, 2009
  • 9:32 pm

Michelle, no need top apologise for the length of your reply. You made some very good points. However, I think you are wrong on the original point Stephen raised in regard the 12.5 year minimum sentence for Broughton.

I do not believe in natural life for all convicted murderers but I certainly do for a good percentage of them and Broughton would be one of them. There appears to be a sexual component at least in the killing of Karen Aim. His motive for the earlier attack is not clear. If he did not kill again they would be a high risk of him offending against another female.

I agree that cost has to be taken into account but one has to balance the cost. Suppose your figure of 50k/yr to keep an offender in jail is correct. What does it cost to keep one on parole including a welfare benefit? Even if they do not offend violently petty and not so petty crime can be quite a cost to the community. When they are on parole they are going to breed. This will almost certainly be a further cost to the community. The offspring of these killers on average are going to be a further cost. I do not know if anyone has done a study of the offspring of convicted killers but I suspect that not many would become productive members of society.

Degrees of murder might help sort out who to take a chance on. As I said you raise some very good points but it would take all your skills as a lawyer to convince me that Broughton will be safe to release on parole before he is at least 50.

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  • Michele Wilkinson-Smith
  • April 1st, 2009
  • 12:17 am

My point is that the 12.5 years is a minimum not a maximum and should only be the actual time in custody if there is some assurance of public safety after that time – I don’t think he’ll be paroled after 12.5 years but with a 14 year old it is simply too early to throw away the key. The possibility of reform must be allowed for in a civilised and compassionate society – but I’m not advocating automatic parole. I just don’t believe in one size fits all justice. The less flexible our justice system is the more of an ass it will be in individual cases. By the way and with respect to Stephen Franks s104 of the sentencing act doesn’t set 17 years as a midpoint for murder non parole periods. Rather this is a starting point for the very worst cases and it goes up or down from there. Extreme youth is a mitigating factor as is a guity plea. Guilty pleas need to be encouraged because they spare the victim’s family the trauma and delay of a trial.
No bail for anyone accused of murder is being mooted – that’s ok if we can have a trial within 6 months or even 9 months of arrest. And it would still throw up injustices – what about the poor old man who assists his 85 year old terminally ill wife to die because he can’t bear to see her suffer? Shall we deny bail? I think we agree that convicted murderers should not be released if they pose a danger. We differ because I believe that, particularly with child offenders, the parole board should eventually make that assessment. I’d be quite happy for a parole board to include a Psychiatrist. We can without a doubt improve material available to parole boards. As for bail I’m not aware of anyone in NZ ever committing a second murder while on bail for murder. Davis was on bail for what seems to be a street mugging where no weapons were involved. His non-parole period is 10 years you may have noticed. As for the children of convicted murderers I suppose it depends who brings them up while Dad (or occasionally Mum) is in prison – I wouldn’t visit the sins of the father upon the child and I have seen amazing people come from terrible backgrounds. I would urge everyone interested in our justice system to go and sit in a list court and sit in on at least some of a jury trial. I have heard of a study done in Britain where members of the public sat in a sentencing cases and were asked what sentence the offender should get. In almost every case the actual sentence was higher than the particpants would have given. Judges and lawyers are just people who also have families and property and a desire for public safety. But unless we want to create a taleban type society with arbitrary imprisonment there is a balancing excersise which must be carried out. I do think it can be done better and the simple fact is that if parole was monitored and all breaches acted on neither Bell, Burton nor Davis would have had the chance to kill – and that would be acheived without keeping thousands of others who do not pose a public danger, in custody.I know our Judges agonise over the more finely balanced decisions. They agonise over giving bail in case their assessment of the risk is wrong and they agonise over denying it when it means a youth who has never been imprisoned before will be thrown into an environment which may in fact turn him into a far worse criminal. I have been inside a lot of prisons and i wouldn’t believe the “prisons are holiday camps’ line – it’s a pretty brutal and unpleasant place. There is one piece of legislation which should be reconsidered and that is s15 of the bail act which makes it much easier to get bail for under 20’s – I think this is illogical. Adolescents are typically impulsive and responsive to peer pressure and just as dangerous so I don’t think the standard should be lower. The concern that lead to s15 could be addressed by an adolescent remand wing for prisoners aged 17 to 20.

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  • Jim Maclean
  • April 1st, 2009
  • 7:16 am

Thank you Michele for your thoughtful and considered comments, and thank you Stephen for initiating the debate and hosting a forum for it as well.
Like Chuck I have concerns over aspects of your argument but I believe we can agree on more than we disagree on.
The bottom line for me is I am sick of being scared for me and for my family and I will pay whatever it costs to simply keep someone proven a threat in jail. I feel for the most part that once they have killed the horse has already bolted so to speak and I would rather that they had been locked up for life before that happens.
I feel less inclined to hope they will reform and feel angry that the loving husband who assists his terminally ill wife would ever be charged with murder or even manslaughter when is motivation is soley the end of suffering. The police charging of the indian shopkeeper who saw off his attackers with a hockey stick shows the law on self defence is another one which needs to be made crystal clear if society is to have its expectations met in this regard.
If I can sum up my concerns simply, it would be to align the rigidly enforced duty of care in OSH legislation to avoid harm to the public and absolutely avoid loss of life with the duty of care for citizens on the street to do likewise and for judges who sentence offenders to realistically look at what it will take to guarantee those charged will not reoffend. I realise this takes money, I even feel I have a good idea how much that might be and am willing to pay it for security for myself, my family and my country. I don’t want to wait until someone murders, I want those likely to murder locked up until they are old and feeble purely because they constitute a risk so severe that in any OSH context it would be utterly unacceptable to do otherwise. Finally I want an end to the lie of concurrent sentences. There is no way I could go into a supermarket for a dozen items and pay only for the most expensive.
It is certainly true that Parole must be closely monitored and trials speedy. The fact that they are not creates injustice, but I believe this is true in no small part because the legal process has allowed evildoers to vascillate, obstruct and complicate via a system which is endeavoring to ensure that no injustice, however slight might occur. Given that starting point, why don’t judges become less tolerant of that nonsense and why don’t laws reflect some fury at those who pursue it?
Once again I thank you for your contribution

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  • Michele Wilkinson-Smith
  • April 2nd, 2009
  • 10:49 am

I’ve also enjoyed this debate and I think it’s important that people do debate these issues. I also understand the desire to be safe from crime – I have 3 small children and a 4th due in 6 weeks.But how do we identify someone “likely to murder”. We can keep those with violent histories in custody but many murderers are in fact first offenders. Jahche Broughton was. The Criminal Justice system will not solve the problem of angry antisocial youth. It has a part to play but they are growing up faster than we can lock them up.

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  • Harry Young
  • May 11th, 2009
  • 1:04 pm

I was interested to read the views of lawyers. Of course you have a vested interest, making a living from the distorted circus that is the judicial system in NZ and elsewhere. A game where you made up the rules yourselves and which you get paid for however long and unfair it is and whether you win or lose. Perhaps I am jaundiced by seeing my 16 year old daughters murderers barrister tell outright lies and constantly strive to paint an inaccurate picture to the jury. I am appalled that the lily livered PC Judge allowed it.
As a member of the public whose 16 year old daughter was violently murdered I say this. No-one convicted of serious violence should be released unless it is PROVED BEYOND DOUBT that the public are safe with them in their midst. The measure of release is the benefit to society, not the benefit to the offender, who after all volunteered to get where he is.
It was not my daughters fault if a murderer had a bad upbringing or had become angry for some other reason.
To use that reasoning in the sentencing insults the value of my daughter and any other innocent victims and endangers the public.

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  • Harry Young
  • May 11th, 2009
  • 1:13 pm

“Enjoyed the debate” is not appropriate. This is not a discussion of whether the 2007 vintage Reisling is sweeter that the 2008 vintage.
It is life and death for innocent people. Maybe first offenders never would offend if they were sure of life meaning life!!
Get a fucking grip!!

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  • Gary McCullough
  • May 28th, 2009
  • 11:38 pm

Iwas a corrections officer in the 1980’s and used to observe imates coming up for paro;e manipulate the system and those who were involved in the reports ie psychologists, social workers etc.
Minimum sentencing was the best thing to come out since sliced bread,
A lifer and I include those on Preventative Detention, if on parole commit an offence be automatically back in the slammer until another parole hearing.
Correct me if I am wrong but doesnt the Minister on advice of the scretary the one who issues a recall. That takes time and this is how the likes of Burton can slip through and reoffend. Aslo jails are full and policies are abound…
Is 3 strikes and you are out ike in the USA the answer. NZ needs supermax prisons. Paremoremoremo was a joke and I believe still is.
Unfortunately a prison is run on the co operation of the inmates. ie there are policies of inmate officer rations but theese were are never adhered to, My time was 10 to 1 What chace did one have when 2 officers unlock a wing of 50 inmates.
Sorry I digress from the theme
Intereseting reading Thank you all especially Michele. Good to see a lawyer with their feet on the ground :-}

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  • Merv Aim
  • June 4th, 2009
  • 3:45 am

Maybe the social workers lawyers etc who support parole applications should be held responsible for further crimes commited by those that they “assist” back into the community

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  • Mish
  • November 29th, 2011
  • 12:37 pm

I'd say Karen Aim's killer is a psychopath without empathy who hates women.  He needs to be locked up forever.  That poor girl, rest in peace Karen and so sorry for her family and friends.

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