Kurariki back in community with 12 months supervision

Last updated 16:14 28/05/2009

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New Zealand's youngest convicted killer has been given another chance to turn his life around, after he was sentenced to 12 months' supervision today.

Bailey Junior Kurariki, 20, escaped a prison sentence after Judge Ida Malosi said she believed he would be better rehabilitated outside prison.

Kurariki was 12 when he was one of six people, all 17 or under, involved in the 2001 killing of pizza delivery driver Michael Choy.

He was jailed for seven years for Mr Choy's manslaughter and released on May 5 last year.

Kurariki was returned to jail on March 29 after being charged with assaulting his girlfriend of six months, Janie Martin. He has been out on bail since May 11.

Kurariki today pleaded guilty in Manukau District Court to common assault and four charges of breaching parole.

Passing sentence, Judge Malosi told Kurariki he was given another chance to "prove yourself".

"For every 1000 people that have written you off, I suspect there might be one that's prepared to hope that with the right intervention, frame of mind and reason to change you might fulfil your goals and dreams and be left to do your thing, as long as it's a law-abiding thing."

Jeremy Sutton, defending Kurariki, told the court his client had been making a genuine effort.

"For the past seven years he has been under the spotlight of a number of different agencies, and a supervision order would essentially be giving him freedom for the first time," Mr Sutton said.

He added that supervision would be preferable to community work, as community work may lead Kurariki to associate with undesirable people.

"He's missed his entire adolescence, having been a child before he's gone to prison. I don't accept the pre-sentence report that he's at a high risk of re-offending."

He added that Kurariki had been addressing his problems with alcohol and drugs and spoke of his love for music and the arts.

Sergeant Laurie Ohms told the court the victim of the Kurariki's assault did not want to get involved. She suffered a minor abrasion to the forehead and right eye.

Kurariki's probation officer Joseph Stadler told the court it was important that he continued his sessions into battling alcohol and drugs.

Judge Malosi told Kurariki that he was in a unique position.

"You've spent some very important years of your life growing up in prison. You will now have to learn how to live life under intense scrutiny.

"You used violence against your girlfriend. It should not have happened and it cannot happen again.

"This is not the first time you have come before the court for assault. You did not take your release conditions seriously. They are not there for you to comply with when you feel like it.

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"I agree that your breaches were stupid and irresponsible.

"You do have a problem with drugs and alcohol, and a problem controlling your anger.

"You can't turn the clock back, but you can live the rest of your life in a good meaningful way.

"You are at a crossroads in your life and you could go either way.

"If you don't start taking responsibility for your actions you will be in and out of prison all the days of your life," Ms Malosi said.

Kurariki gestured to waiting media and said "f. . . you" as he left the court today.



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