Jeremy McLaughlin at the High Court in Christchurch. Photo
The family of schoolgirl Jade Bayliss, murdered by double
child killer Jeremy McLaughlin in 2011, have welcomed his
lengthy sentence - but he has vowed to appeal.
McLaughlin was "on the brink'' of being the first murderer in
New Zealand to be sentenced to life imprisonment without
parole, a judge said today.
At the High Court in Christchurch, Crown prosecutor Brent
Stanaway told Justice Graham Panckhurst that McLaughlin - who
continues to deny the murder, even in a letter he wanted read
out in court today, but which was blocked by the judge who
said it would only `inflame the situation'' - met the
criteria for life in jail without parole.
But Justice Panckhurst concluded that McLaughlin was "on the
brink, but not quite crossing the line'' of receiving a
Instead, he imposed a minimum non-parole period of 23 years
for the "brutal and senseless'' crime.
In April, a jury of seven women and five men found McLaughlin
guilty of murdering his ex-partner's daughter.
The 35-year-old had denied strangling Jade with a piece of
cord, stuffing socks in her mouth, dousing her house in
petrol and setting it ablaze on November 10, 2011.
Jury members weren't allowed to know McLaughlin's criminal
In Australia in 1995, he bashed 14-year-old Phillip Vidot
with a cricket bat, and a mate ran over Vidot in a car.
The boy died, and Mclaughlin was sentenced to 12 years in
jail for manslaughter. After four years he was deported to
his native New Zealand in 2001.
News of McLaughlin's prior history sparked calls, endorsed by
Justice Minister Judith Collins, for better sharing of
criminal convictions between Australia and New Zealand.
Ms Collins will attend a meeting of the Standing Council of
Law and Justice with her Australian counterparts in Sydney
On the agenda will be the progress being made by New Zealand
Police to develop a joint Memorandum of Understanding to
improve the management of New Zealanders who are convicted in
Australia and deported back to New Zealand, and the
Government's plans to publish district court judgments
"I'm looking forward to meeting with my Australian
counterparts and having the opportunity to discuss topics
concerning law and justice that benefit both sides of the
Tasman,'' she said today.
"During the meeting we will address a number of justice
issues, including cybercrime, organised crime and restorative
McLaughlin's flatmate, Jolon Erin Sweeney, 42, was sentenced
in June to 200 hours of community work for his role in
helping McLaughlin try to get away with the burglary and
After he was sentenced, Sweeney said he hoped McLaughlin
never got out of jail.
"I've got a young boy ... and I don't want my son to be one
of his next victims.''
Jade's mum Tina Bayliss read out her victim impact statement
today, in which she paid tribute to her bright daughter, an
exceptional pupil, and her "special friend''.
"I think of her every day. She had everything to live for,''
Ms Bayliss said.
Tina said she used to be happy-go-lucky, but now is "not
really fussed about living life to the max any more''.
She has suffered depression, anxiety, and undergone
medication and counselling, she said.
"I'm terrified of this happening again; terrified of losing
She recently returned from Perth where she had an
"emotional'' meeting with the family of Vidot and another
victim Tyron Williams, who still suffers brain damage from
Tina said she wonders how someone could harm three children
like McLaughlin did and "still have no remorse''.
"Our lives will never be the same.''
Jade's father Gary Bayliss said he's been unable to grieve
for Jade, as the "heartache and anger'' has been so deep.
"It ripped me up inside,'' he said.
Mr Bayliss said he had lost friends who didn't know what to
say to him anymore.
As McLaughlin was led into the cells to begin his lengthy
prison term, people in the public gallery shouted abuse at
him, calling him "f****** gutless" and a "piece of s***", and
saying he should be hung.
Outside court, Tina Bayliss made a short statement: "Firstly
I'd like to say how happy I am with Jeremy McLaughlin's
"I'd like to thank everyone involved in bringing justice to
my daughter Jade Louise Bayliss. Jade will never be
McLaughlin's aunty Aurora Smith spoke outside court claiming
that her nephew was innocent.
"This is a very sad day. An innocent man has been sentenced
to a murder he did not commit.''
The Crown was not calling for the life sentence just because
of the callousness of the crime, Mr Stanaway said.
He argued that McLaughlin could qualify for such a harsh
sentence given his prior history, his personal
characteristics, the need for individual deterrents, and the
need to protect the community.
The Sentencing and Parole Reform Act 2010 was introduced so
that New Zealand's most serious murderers were no longer a
risk to the community, he said.
Given that Mclaughlin has now killed two young people,
protection to the community needs to be a "paramount
consideration", Mr Stanaway said.
A psychologist raised concerns in a report about McLaughlin's
lies and manipulation, the court was told.
Mr Stanaway said McLaughlin had shown a common theme of
deflecting blame and culpability to others, which had become
more pronounced as he had aged.
It was almost impossible to assess his chances of
rehabilitation given his non-compliance so far, he said.
Defence counsel Margaret Sewell said deterrents and community
protection could be served by a minimum non-parole period.
She accepted the psychiatric report placed McLaughlin at a
medium to high risk of re-offending, but given that life
imprisonment means life in prison, it was up to him to
convince the authorities that he was suitable for release,
Justice Panckhurst told McLaughlin that "without doubt your
crime warrants life imprisonment''.
He raised concerns over McLaughlin's continued "fatuous''
denial. It was not credible that some other intruder entered
the Bayliss home in Cashmere after his burglary, but before
he returned to torch it, the judge said.
DNA found under Jade's fingernails matched McLaughlin's
profile, Justice Panckhurst said.
"This is one of the most compelling cases I have experienced
in my years in these courts''.
He praised the police's "meticulous'' approach to the case,
as well as the Crown's "overwhelming'' arguments.
"Your refusal to acknowledge the obvious is very
disturbing,'' Justice Panckhurst said.
"As was the efficient and emotionless way you acted that
morning, immediately after taking this young girl's life.
"It was chilling to see your demeanor later that day and
indeed that evening when you were interviewed by the
Ms Sewell said McLaughlin will appeal the decision.