Motorway shooting: McDonald to appeal

22:58, Feb 15 2010

The man at the centre of a police pursuit which left an innocent teenage courier driver dead on Auckland's north western motorway says his 13-year prison term is too long.

Stephen Hohepa McDonald is going to the Court of Appeal in April to claim his 13-year sentence was manifestly excessive.

He was jailed on 23 charges after police accidentally shot dead courier driver Halatau Naitoko, 17, as McDonald led police on a chase through western Auckland and on to the motorway.

During the chase in January last year he fired several shots at police and the police helicopter but when he was cornered on the motorway and tried to hijack a truck, police opened fire, killing Mr Naitoko.

During his sentencing in the High Court in Auckland last September, Judge Rhys Harrison ordered that he spend at least eight years in jail before he was eligible for parole.

McDonald would appeal the length of his sentence and not his conviction, said his lawyer Roger Chambers.

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He said it was on the grounds that it was manifestly excessive.

McDonald was due in Auckland District Court today on a callover on a charge of aggravated robbery for an incident about two days before the motorway incident which cost Mr Naitoko his life.

The motorway death followed a high-speed chase throughout Auckland in stolen cars when shots were fired.

The charges he admitted included firing at police, possessing a firearm, aggravated robbery, and unlawfully getting into a motor vehicle.

The police officer who fired the shot that killed Mr Naitoko was not charged and during McDonald's sentencing, Judge Harrison said police were not to blame for the death.

NZPA