The killers of disabled Featherston man Glen Jones have been sentenced to life imprisonment and must serve at least 17 years.
Jones died on January 12 last year in a vigilante attack after he had been accused of rape, but his name was cleared in the High Court in Wellington today.
Justice Alan MacKenzie said evidence that was not given at the trial showed there had been a thorough and timely police investigation of the rape allegation. The results did not support the rape allegation and the slur on Jones' reputation was unjustified.
Jones' older brother Brent said in a victim impact statement he read to the court today that an innocent and harmless man was killed because of a rumour, and the killers should be disgusted with themselves.
They acted without the slightest proof, took Glen Jones' life and smeared his name, he said.
They went with their "stomping boots on and their axe handles" and Glen Jones was an easy target. He was better and stronger than any of his attackers.
Hearing the rape allegation repeated over and over during the trial was almost too hard for the family to bear, Brent Jones said.
His mother's memory of Glen was still of him lying in a pool of blood in his room. Sue Jones had been told there had been trouble at the flat where Glen lived and got up in the middle of the night to go there. She arrived while ambulance staff were trying to save his life despite the massive head injuries. She went with him in the ambulance to Wellington Hospital where he died within hours.
Brent Jones said that because of surgery for a brain tumour and other treatment as a toddler, his brother had been weak on his right side, almost blind in his right eye, had epilepsy, poor balance, and learning difficulties.
He was loving, caring and harmless man - the most-loved and cherished member of their family.
Glen Jones, 40, was beaten to death in his flat on Featherston's main street..
A jury in March found Tariana Jones, 34, Matthew John McKinney, 29, Kristofer Lee Jones, 24, and Hayden Ranson, 28, guilty of his murder. They had been drinking at Tariana Jones' Masterton house before the attack.
Each was today sentenced to life imprisonment with a non-parole period of 17 years.
On charges of aggravated burglary they were sentenced to 10 years concurrent with the life term.
McKinney's partner, Toni Maree Miller, 23, was sentenced to eight years jail after being found guilty of aggravated burglary for having driven three of the killers from Masterton to Featherston.
Justice MacKenzie said she was one of the instigators of the attack.
He said the woman who made the rape complaint against Jones bore no responsibility for what they did. She had asked them to leave it to the police and did not encourage them.
It would not have reduced the blame on the killers even if there was substance to the allegation, the judge said.
After a horrific attack they had run off. The shock and trauma Glen Jones must have suffered in that brief period must have been extreme, the judge said.
He accepted it had not been planned to kill him, but it was planned to attack him.
The judge said he did not know which of the four defendants had inflicted the head injuries that killed Glen Jones so he would not distinguish between them despite what he said were "reservations".
Glen Jones' family sat in the jury box in the packed courtroom for the sentencing.
The two defendants with the surname Jones were not related to Glen Jones, or to each other.
- The Dominion Post