Why was Delegat's sentence so much lighter than Maikuku's?

Jackie Maikuku
Jackie Maikuku

Controversy has been rife over the case of 19-year-old Nikolas Delegat, the son of a rich-lister who punched a female police officer to a state of unconsciousness and has not gone to prison for it.

He's now convicted of assaulting a police officer outside a Dunedin bar in March 2015 - but rather than a prison sentence, he received 300 hours' community service and a $5000 fine.

That's despite police officer Alana Kane spending 15 hours in hospital and missing two months of work after the assault.

Why was Delegat's sentence so much lighter than Maikuku's?

Nikolas Delegat

And now Story has uncovered just how different things can be for people who have committed similar crimes, after looking at police assault cases of Jackie Maikuku and Walter Tauatevalu.

Maikuku received a nine-month jail sentence for attacking an officer who tried to arrest him on an outstanding warrant. He removed an officer's taser before assaulting him badly enough to give him cuts and bruises.

Why was Delegat's sentence so much lighter than Maikuku's?

Tauatevalu punched and stomped on a policeman's head, leaving him in hospital with several broken bones, a broken larynx and a serious brain injury, for which he got a six-and-a-half-years' prison.

As Tauatevalu's conviction was for grievous bodily harm and was thus a much more serious assault, it carried a significantly higher maximum sentence than both Maikuku and Delegat.

Why was Delegat's sentence so much lighter than Maikuku's?

In Delegat's case, policewoman Alana Kane received a black eye and facial injuries after Delegat continued to punch her despite her going unconscious.

However, there was no prison sentence for him - instead he got community service and a fine.

AUT law professor Warren Brookbanks told Story there is often a difference in the sentences handed out for crimes based on ethnic background, but that's mainly because details of each case vary.

"Sometimes there are examples of unconscious bias on the part of the judiciary - but I think more often it simply reflects the fact that the facts in any case are invariably very, very different," he said.

However Mr Brookbanks admits it doesn't seem to add up in this case.

"There's a huge difference between a penalty of 300 hours' community service and nine months' imprisonment, for what seem to be very similar facts," he said.