Convicted killer Jordan Nelson will be eligible for parole in six years. Is that right?
A dangerous precedent has been set after New Zealand's youngest convicted murderer was not sentenced to the mandatory life sentence, the victim's distraught family said last night.
Instead, Jordan Nelson, 13, was sentenced in the High Court in New Plymouth yesterday to an 18-year jail term.
Last month he pleaded guilty to shooting 50-year-old caregiver Rose Kurth at close range in the head with a .22 calibre rifle at their home in Okoki, North Taranaki, on April 15.
Ms Kurth would not have seen him coming. She was seated at the kitchen table doing a jigsaw puzzle.
Sentencing judge, Justice Paul Heath rejected the mandatory life sentence because of Nelson's young age.
The family is now calling for the Crown to appeal the sentence.
"The family tonight remained shocked and upset," they told the Taranaki Daily News.
"We felt the focus of today's decision hinged largely on the defendant's young age and worry that it could be setting a dangerous precedent for future cases.
"We feel that unfortunately justice wasn't done and that Rose's death was for nothing."
The family expected the mandatory life sentence with a non-parole period of 10 to 17 years.
They were struggling to accept Nelson was handed down 18 years allowing him to be eligible for parole after six years when he would be only 19 years old.
"It seems illogical that Justice Paul Heath should rule it a low risk to the community upon his eventual release. "We ask, if the boy is capable of such a cold-blooded, premeditated murder at just 13 years of age what is the 19-year-old hardened and practised killer capable of?
"We feel his peers will now look up to him for ‘getting away with it'."
The family also expressed their gratitude to the police and Crown "for the great support and fantastic job" throughout the case.
In court yesterday, Justice Heath said the 13-year-old shot and killed his caregiver because he was angry that she had stopped him from visiting his mother in Hawke's Bay.
But the teenager got it wrong.
It was Child Youth and Family who did not allow him to see his mother not Ms Kurth, Justice Heath said.
At the time, Nelson was living with his de facto grandfather Kerry Lock and Mr Lock's partner Rose Kurth under a care and protection order.
He had no answer for interviewing police as to why he put the rifle in his sleepout earlier in the morning while his grand-dad was walking the dogs.
After shooting his victim at 3pm, while his grand-dad was out shifting cattle, he dragged her body into a bedroom, ransacked his grand-dad's room and stealing money he drove off to Waitara in his victim's car.
Police stopped him and he was arrested.
It is believed Nelson is being held in a secure residential youth justice centre in Rotorua. He will remain in a youth facility until he is 16.
His lawyer, Patrick Mooney, told the court Nelson's carers at the centre reported he was showing leadership qualities, and for the first time in his life, achieving well at his school work including completed NCEA subjects.
In a letter to the paper, Mr Lock said he wanted readers to know that at the time of the murder, he and Rose had grounded Jordan because he was smoking cannabis at Waitara High School. He got the cannabis from another student.
"He was suspended from school for eight weeks and we made him do school work sent from high school.
"We also took his Freeview TV out of his bedroom for eight weeks."
He was still allowed to play on his Playstation.
It was untrue that Rose had stopped him from going to his mother's in Napier for the holidays, Mr Lock said.
"Under a ruling from CYF he was not allowed to stay with his mother during the holidays and he was only allowed to go there to see his mother with me and not allowed to stay."
After sentencing, Detective Senior Sergeant Grant Coward told the Taranaki Daily News that their thoughts were with the family in what was a very difficult time for them.
There were no winners in the tragic case but with Jordan pleading guilty, the family had been spared a trial.
MEMORIES HAUNT VICTIM'S PARTNER
The man 13-year-old Jordan Nelson called Granddad still suffers flashbacks after finding his partner's bleeding body in the rural Okoki home the three shared.
"I thought my world had ended," Kerry Lock said as he read his victim impact statement to the High Court in New Plymouth yesterday.
Jordan Nelson was sentenced to 18 years' jail for the murder of Rose Kurth.
Mr Lock told the court he returned from shifting the stock near their Piko Rd home to find two bloody drag marks leading into the spare room.
He opened the door to find Ms Kurth lying on the floor with blood coming out the back of her head, her mouth and ears.
The ongoing effect of her horrific death at the hands of the boy he thought of as a son was immeasurable, he said.
"I suffer from vivid flashbacks that randomly affect my ability to maintain day-to-day tasks."
His voice broke as he said: "I miss Rose like crazy and all I can do is kiss the photo beside the bed every day."
Two of Ms Kurth's daughters also shared the effects her death had had on them.
"What Jordan has done has torn my family apart," Jimmy Kurth said.
Her children would now never have a relationship with their grandmother.
She spoke of recurring nightmares and her fear of being alone.
"I don't understand how Jordan could be so selfish and nasty, all because he was grounded and it was for a serious matter.
"I hate what you have done, you stole from me. Nothing can fix the pain you have caused," Ms Kurth said.
Their statements were two of three read to the court by their writers yesterday.
Several others were also before the court.
- Taranaki Daily News
Is high tea at a funeral parlour your cup of tea?Related story: High tea... in a funeral parlour