Theo Kriel was today given a life imprisonment for the murder of Liberty Rose Templeman.
He must serve a minimum period of 11.5 years before he can be considered for parole. He must also serve a concurrent sentence of 6 months for indecent assault.
Stuff.co.nz had an account of the hearing:
“Life imprisonment means just that. Unless you satisfy the prison board otherwise, you will be in jail for the rest of your life,” Justice Raynor Asher told Kriel.
The teenage Kriel was found guilty of murder and indecent assault after a trial last month which heard how in November 2008, when he was just 14, he beat and strangled Liberty, 15, and dumped her body in a creek.
The judge said the fact that Kriel was a youth and not a very mature one at the time of the murder was a factor in his crime.
“At the time of the murder, although possessed with considerable height and strength, you were immature.”
“Your calmness in the days that followed was of a concern, it was a blankness,” the judge said.
“You acted as a child.
“I accept that your terrible action was out of character; this is confirmed by the professional reports that have been prepared in the 18 months that you have been in custody.”
“I see the drivers as being anger driven by we know not what, and then panic and the desire not to be caught.”
“It would be manifestly unjust to impose a minimum sentence of 17 years.”
The judge’s starting point was 13 years imprisonment.
“I am entirely satisfied that the attack on her was unprovoked,” the judge said.
“You appear to remove yourself from the reality of what you’ve done.”
Kriel, 16, sat between his two guards in the dock. He had a shaved head and was wearing a white and grey striped shirt and loose pants.
He sat slouched, head dipped low, mouth slightly agape. His eyes shifted across to Templeman family members and later at the judge. His stare was blank.
“The damage is not just limited to you, it extends to Liberty’s close group of friends who will live their life with the loss of such a close and dear friend,” the judge said.
The wider Kerikeri community had been shocked by this brutal and inexplicable killing, he said.
“She was a very special and talented woman, with a very exciting future,” the judge said.
The judge said he had no doubt that it was a chance circumstance Liberty and Kriel had ended up walking together. He said the precise details of what happened after Liberty and Kriel crossed over the bridge on their walk together was unclear.
“You are the only living witness and you have given four different version of events,” the judge said to Kriel.
The judge said the inherent problem with Kriel’s version of event was that it was unlikely that Kriel could have thought that he was threatened with police action if all he had done was accidentally push Liberty into the stream.
What seemed more likely, the judge said, was that Kriel had made a sexual advance on Liberty and she had punched Kriel, leaving a red mark on his chest. That was speculation though, he said.
The judge said after that attack Kriel had acted as if nothing had happened and glibly lied to Liberty’s parents and then police. “On the Friday you came into the police station with your parents.”
“In that third statement you confessed to killing Liberty,” the Judge said. “
The sentence is comparable to that given to Jahche Broughton, who was 14 when he bashed Karen Aim to death in Taupo. Broughton received a life sentence with a minimum non parole period of 12 years.