Ewen Macdonald, the Feilding farmer cleared of killing his brother-in-law Scott Guy, has been sentenced to a total of five years for six unrelated charges.
In sentencing Macdonald at Palmerston North District Court this morning Justice Simon France said he had watched police interviews but "saw and heard" no signs of remorse from Macdonald.
The accused had written to Justice France expressing his remorse, but Justice France said he did not accept that.
Five years. That's sixty months, which divided by three is 20 months. Ewen Macdonald will be eligible for parole in just three months, unless a minimum non-parole period was imposed.
And for those who are interested, Justice France's sentencing notes can be read here...
Ewen Macdonald is up for sentence today; the Herald reports:
Feilding farmer Ewen Macdonald, who was cleared of killing his brother-in-law Scott Guy, will be sentenced today on other charges.
Macdonald was found not guilty of murdering Mr Guy, 31, after a trial in the High Court at Wellington in June.
He will be sentenced on six unrelated charges when he appears in the Palmerston North District Court before Justice Simon France, who presided over his murder trial.
During his trial the jury was made aware of three other charges Macdonald, 32, had pleaded guilty to.
He had admitted burning down a home on Mr Guy's property and vandalising another home Mr Guy and his wife, Kylee, were having built.
He also admitted poaching two deer, worth a total of $17,500, from a neighbouring farm while on hunting "missions" with accomplice Callum Boe.
After his acquittal on the murder charge it was revealed Macdonald had also pleaded guilty to three further charges. He admitted he killed 19 calves by hitting them on the head after a farmer caught him and Boe poaching deer in June 2007.
He also burnt down a 110-year-old whare and emptied a vat on a neighbouring farm, causing thousands of dollars worth of milk to be lost.
The charges that Macdonald faces are serious ones, and there is little doubt that he will be sentenced to a lengthy term of imprisonment.
But Macdonald has already been in custody for 17 months; firstly on remand awaiting trial for the murder of Scott Guy, and since his acquittal on that charge, remanded in custody awaiting sentence. Based on the current eligibility for parole at one thirds of the sentence, he would need to be sentenced to at least four years and three months (51 months) imprisonment if he is to remain in prison beyond today, unless a lengthy non-parole period was imposed.
We can understand Kylee Guy's anxiety at the potential release of Ewen Macdonald today. But we believe that her campaign to have him given a hefty sentence is misguided. Writing to the Prime Minister and Attorney-General asking for a certain type of sentence is inappropriate; quite rightly, politicians have no influence on matters before the Courts. Clearly she (and many other people) still believes that Macdonald killed her husband, but the fact remains that the Crown was unable to prove its case against him. That cannot be relitigated.
So what's the likely outcome today; will Macdonald leave the High Court a free man? We certainly hope not; the crimes that he did admit are serious, and have left traumatised victims such as Kylee Guy in their wake. He has shown a vindictive streak towards those who upset him, and a propensity towards violence and intimidation. We do not believe that justice would be either done or seen to be done if Ewen Macdonald goes home today.
What say you?