July 28 2017, updated 9:41pm

Tears as Edgeware Road killer jailed

Last updated 12:15 26/06/2008
DAVID HALLETT/The Press
LIPINE SILA: Sentenced to 17 years jail.
KILLED: Jane Young and Hannah Rossiter.

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Finally, an apology from Lipine Sila for the deaths and carnage he caused along Christchurch's Edgeware Road, and an offer to meet his victims face-to-face as he begins his life sentence.

The 23-year-old will be 40 when he is eligible for release after Justice John Fogarty imposed a 17-year minimum non-parole term at an emotionally charged sentencing session that went for more than two hours in Christchurch High Court.

The session heard victim impact reports read by 12 people, including those hit by the car that Sila powered through the crowd that night in May last year, and family members of the dead and injured.

The eloquent statements spoke of loss, anger, frustration, sadness. There was no forgiveness, certainly no expressions of hate, Christchurch Court News website reports.

Harry Young, the father of Jane Ada Young, one of the two 16-year-old schoolgirls killed in Sila's rampage, explained outside the court that his statement had been "heavily censored".

Justice Fogarty explained to the court that Parliament set a guideline of 17-years minimum non-parole as part of a life term in cases where two people had been murdered.

He could not see any reason to reduce the term for being manifestly excessive. But he did not agree with the call by crown prosecutor Anne Toohey for the term to be increased to 20 years.

He said he had to regard the jury's verdict as indicating they regarded it as "reckless killing". From the questions they had asked during their deliberations, he was convinced they had been considering whether it was "reckless murder or manslaughter".

He said it would be quite wrong to sentence on the basis that it was "deliberate murder".

Miss Toohey had said that the jury rejected the idea that Sila had driven into the crowd because of panic and fear for his life. It had found there was intentional behaviour in driving at the people.

Victims of Sila's offending had spoken of his apparent lack of remorse in their statements to the court. Mr Young told of his "swagger" into and out of court which the jury never saw during the trial, and the way he smiled and waved to family and friends.

A close friend of Jane Young, who narrowly missed being hit herself as her friend was killed, said: "The fact that he has never accepted responsibility or said he was sorry, has been difficult to cope with."

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Sila stood in the dock for 90 minutes while the victims read their statements and while their words were translated into Samoan for him. He never looked at them, but kept facing straight ahead to the judge. Once or twice he wiped his eyes, and when he was allowed to sit a court staff member took him tissues so he could wipe his tears.

And then, as defence counsel Pip Hall stood, came the apology: "First and foremost, on behalf of Lipine Sila, I wish to express his extreme remorse and sadness about the damage and devastation his actions have caused to all affected."

"Rubbish," someone called from the public seats.

In the probation report, Sila apologises "from the bottom of my heart and feeling sorry and sad". He says he wishes he had the power to bring the victims back.

"I know that what will happen to me will not be good, but it is nothing compared to what those girls and their families have gone through."

Family members told how much they missed the two girls, Jane Young and Hannah Rossiter, and the court heard how Sila's actions had damaged bodies and broken up families.

Outside the court, Mr Young said the sentence was "woefully inadequate" and he hoped Sila would get over 20 years. "I think it should be life meaning life, but the judicial system is very much biased against law and order."

Mr Hall said as he left that there was no talk of an appeal. Crown prosecutor Anne Toohey said, "I can't comment, sorry."

Ben Devine, who was in a coma for weeks after the incident, struggled to read his statement in court. He suffered brain damage and spoke of how people said his personality had changed, and how he had difficulties with concentration and problem solving.

Outside the court, he spoke of reading his statement. "I felt after I read it there was a weight lifted off my shoulders."

- NZPA

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