Opinion: Is this justice for Moko?


Baby Moko's mum, Nicola Dally-Paki, couldn't listen to the sickening details of her son's death today.

It was too raw, too gruesome, too brutal.

She put her fingers in her ears and she walked from the court on numerous occasions.

She wanted justice for her little boy.

And she's told me she hasn't got it with the 17 year sentence handed down today to Moko's killers.

Technically, Tania Shailer and David Haewera will have to at least serve nine years before either is eligible for parole.

They could be out in nine. It's most unlikely. But possible.

Nicola has told me today she will turn up to every parole hearing to block their release.

While nine years looks short, the 17 year maximum is the longest sentence for manslaughter of a child in our country's history. It's a long time and they should do every day of it.

Nicola says this was premeditated murder and the killers should have got life - most of NZ will agree I suspect. But the judge could only sentence on what was in front of her.

She couldn't give them life because they pled guilty to manslaughter after murder charges were dropped early in the piece. 

This was as long and as stiff as it was ever going to be because the charges were dropped from murder to manslaughter.

That's because the Government changed the prosecution guidelines in 2013 to incentivise cost-effective prosecutions which has seen killers like Haewera and Shailer get charged with manslaughter only.

And they benefit from a discounted sentence by pleading guilty to a lesser charge.

It saved money and it meant we got a conviction. I think many of us wanted them tried for murder.  And we feel sick about the plea bargain. We don't like this. We think it stinks.

So now Nicola must rebuild her life. She was strong in court today - she eyeballed the killers during her victim impact statement.

They looked lifeless, remorseless, vacant, empty and cold in response. They have shown no remorse. Shailer shook uncontrollably and Haewera closed his eyes for long periods.

But this doesn't end today.

Nicola has two other children who have been brutalised by this and they are in CYF care. Her daughter was forced to join in on the violence. They are traumatised.

I think we need a new law - a child killing charge, where murder can't be traded for a lesser charge.

Children are defenceless, manslaughter doesn't cut it.

The evidence in this case was overwhelming.

It's time to genuinely put kids first - right now we pay lip service and it's our national shame and embarrassment.

Since 1992, 204 children aged 0-14 have died at the hands of adults.

It must stop. We need tougher laws protecting children.

Moko is our wake-up call. Are we ready to act?