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Sentences Too Lenient In Makutu Case, Says Prominent Lawyer

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Sentences Too Lenient In Makutu Case, Says Prominent Lawyer

Wellington, Aug 15 NZPA - Community sentences for five people convicted of the manslaughter of Janet Moses during a curse-lifting ceremony are too lenient, says prominent defence lawyer Barry Hart.

The five were sentenced by Justice Simon France in the High Court at Wellington yesterday. There were tears from the dock and applause from the public gallery as community detention and community work sentences were imposed.

Mr Hart, who was not involved in the trial said the sentences seemed to lenient and liberal.

"It's doesn't matter how you look at it, the sentences are really light," he told the Dominion Post.

Manslaughter was appropriate rather than a lesser charge because a life was lost, he said.

Crown Law said it was too early to consider an appeal.

The case was so unusual it was impossible to make comparisons, Otago University sentencing specialist Geoff Hall told the newspaper.

Ms Moses, a 22-year-old mother-of-two, died in Wainuiomata in October 2007 after attempts by members of her whanau to lift what they believed was a makutu, or curse, on her.

She died after water was forced into her mouth and eyes to flush out demons.

John Tahana Rawiri, 49, and Glenys Lynette White, 52, were sentenced to six months community detention, 300 hours of community work and supervision for 12 months. Aroha Gwendoline Wharepapa, 48, and Tanginoa Apanui, 42, were sentenced to 300 hours community work and 12 months supervision .

Angela Orupe, 36, was sentenced to 150 hours community work and six months supervision .

Justice France said the sentences could be seen as inadequate, but mitigating factors included the family's belief they were helping Ms Moses and the level of co-operation with police afterwards.

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