IN THIS ISSUE: Moral and Fiscal Failure, Sex offenders in our community, From the Youth desk, Justice for Moko, The Impact of Crime on Families, Membership Drive, A Night with Graham Henry, Community Sponsorship
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December 2017 Newsletter


By Garth McVicar

Three-Strikes was introduced in 2010 as a direct response to SST and public concerns following a number of heinous crimes committed by recidivist offenders.

Jules Mikus had 78 prior convictions before he kidnapped, raped and murdered 6 year old Teresa Cormack.

William Bell, the RSA killer, had 104 prior convictions before killing 3 innocent people in the Panmure RSA and beating Sue Couch so horrifically she will never lead a normal life again.

There were hundreds of despicable crimes being committed by offenders who were being recycled by an offender friendly, criminal centred legal process that was totally incapable of protecting the public from them. These offenders had no respect for society or their victims and were simply career criminals.

Three-Strikes has stopped the recycling of these offenders and these terrible crimes by criminals with  long lists of prior convictions. 

“The Three-Strikes law is ‘silly’, doesn’t work and will be dismantled next year”, Justice Minister Andrew Little says. He said it has had no impact on making the country any safer. (

SST says that’s absolutely not true. Justice stats show that fewer people who get a first strike are committing second strikes, compared to before the Three-Strikes law.  His  own Justice Departments figures show it’s working. [see page 2] 

David Seymour [ACT party] called the proposal the ‘evilest clean slate law’ and he says Little is effectively telling nearly 9000 offenders they could commit more crimes without facing longer sentences.

“Removing the law is based on a flawed ‘rights’ ideology rather than good practice which protects the most vulnerable in our society”

SST says Andrew Little must look at the evidence and face the victims of some of these horrendous crimes before ‘tearing up‘ this  valuable piece of legislation.

Our Victim Advisors

Leigh Woodman is our National Victim advisor. Leigh can be reached by mobile: 027 561 2119 or

Jayne Walker is our South Island Victim Advisor.Jayne can be reached by mobile: 021 881 623 or

Hayley Heke is our Waikato Victim Advisor. Hayley can be reached by mobile: 027 335 4640 or

Scott Guthrie is our Child Abuse Spokeperson. Scott can be reached at

Jess McVicar is our Youth Spokeperson. Jess can be reached at

Jock Jamieson is our Public Awareness and Education Spokeperson. Jock can at reached at

Neville Pettersson is our Offender Database Manager. Neville can be reached at

Thank you

A huge thank you to all members who renewed their membership from our May newsletter.

Once again the mail has been amazing. We appreciate your overwhelming support which helps us continue the fight for change on your behalf.

Thank you for taking the time to read our latest newsletter.


I would love to hear why Andrew Little thinks this is the case & hear him give specific examples. I believe he is basing this decision only on prison statistics and the rising reoffending rates with the criminal as the focus. His view on the Three-Strikes is one sided here; he is considering and focusing on the criminals only, what about the safety net for society and the victims? Maybe he needs to go back and look at why the need of this was implemented in the first place. Prison stats are not taking into consideration the increasing number of victims deeply affected by crime and other factors that aren’t working.

What’s NOT a deterrence for criminals; maybe it’s our NZ justice system which is too lenient, short prison sentences for serious offences, discounted sentences for plea bargaining, criminals only needing to serve 1/3 of their sentence. Then to be paroled back into the community to then go on to commit more crime while on those parole conditions (stats are there) and the rehabilitation model which is clearly not effective for serious offenders. It’s the lack of consequences and monitoring our justice system delivers that is encouraging crime to continue and on the rise.

I honestly believe criminals take the piss out of the system already. So why is it we are making it even easier for these criminals to fall through the cracks even more? It’s truly unbelievable. Where is the safety net?

SST says Three-Strikes working well 

he “Three-Strikes” (3S) legislation – came into force on 1 June 2010.  The 40 so called “strike” offences are all offences of serious violence, punishable by seven years or more in prison. The offences are listed in s.86A of the Sentencing Act 2002 Andrew Little says Three-Strikes is not working but data from his own Department provides clear evidence it is working well.

History of ‘strike’ offenders: 100% of ‘strike’ offenders have numerous prior convictions as adults for serious offences including aggravated robbery, indecent assault, and possession of offensive weapons. 46% of strike offenders have prior convictions for ‘strike’ offences prior to June 2010. Because 3S was not made retrospective, those convictions do not count as strikes. 38% of strike offenders committed their first strike while on bail, on parole or still otherwise subject to sentence. 67% committed their second strike offence while on bail, on parole or still otherwise subject to sentence. “Figures produced by the Ministry of Justice in late 2015 showed that in the five years prior to Three- Strikes taking effect, 103 offenders would have become “second strikers”, compared to the 68 who in fact did become second strikers in the five year period immediately following Three-Strikes taking effect.”  

That represents a 34% decrease in recidivism. That means Three-Strikes is working well. This dwarfs the reduction in “first strikers” over that same period, which reduced by only 4.9% from 5517 to 5248.”


  • Introduce cumulative sentencing for offenders convicted of more than one crime including white collar crime.
  • Adopt and implement the philosophy that “Life will mean Life” with a mandatory minimum non-parole period of 40-years for premeditated murder.
  • Ensure that meaningful minimum sentences for ‘King-Hit’ and Looting are established and implemented.

Introduce cumulative sentencing for offenders convicted of more than one crime including white collar crime.

Adopt and implement the philosophy that “Life will mean Life” with a mandatory minimum non-parole period of 40-years for premeditated murder.

Ensure that meaningful minimum sentences for ‘King-Hit’ and Looting are established and implemented.

Three-Strikes – comparisons with California are misleading

Andrew Little has begun the battle for Three-Strikes (3S) by telling a lie – that the law has caused “great harm”. He doesn’t specify what the harm he refers to is. As he tries to persuade the public that a law that is working exactly as intended is unjust, I expect him to try and sneak in references to injustices in US jurisdictions with 3S laws.  We have deliberately drafted a law for New Zealand which avoids the mistakes made by the Americans. There are many differences between our law and the American version; here are the main ones:

  • Three-Strikes doesn’t apply to young offenders. Only those over 18 are caught by it.  
  • No “technical felonies” which led to injustices in California. Every strike offence is an offence of serious violence carrying a maximum sentence of at least seven years. No going to jail for 25 years to life for stealing some golf clubs here. 
  • The Judicial warning – every strike offender must be given a warning by the sentencing Judge of the consequences of further “strike” offending. This has resulted in criminals being well aware of how the law works, and how it will affect them. 
  • The “manifestly unjust” proviso. The strike three sentence is the maximum sentence prescribed by the Crimes Act for that offence, to be served without parole – unless the Judge thinks that would be “manifestly unjust”, in which case the offender is eligible for parole.

Andrew Little has already signalled that the fight to repeal Three-Strikes will be a “down and dirty” one, with lies and false comparisons to American versions of 3S. The law is working exactly as intended. It is very different and a much more finely targeted law than its American cousins. When the discussion comes up among friends and relatives, make sure they understand the many differences between American and New Zealand 3S laws. David Garrett

Catch-and-Release and the

On 31st October the Police Minister, Stuart Nash, announced Labour would introduce an additional 1800 police over the next 3 years.

“We want to put more police back on the beat, back into our communities, like it used to be,” Mr. Nash says.

“We’re going to put more police into our communities to keep people safe, to prevent crime, but also to put bad guys behind bars.”

The Minister also envisages giving police substantially greater resources for ‘smashing gangs and organised crime”, targeting all levels of the drug supply chain as well as the wider gang network.

While SST applauds the Ministers announcement, we wonder how a policy of ‘locking up the bad guys’ fits  with the Minister of Corrections, Kelvin Davis, statement that he wants to reduce prison numbers by 30% and will reverse tough bail laws introduced after it became obvious many offenders were offending while on bail. The death of North Shore teenager Christie Marceau who was killed by an offender out on bail was the final catalyst for change.

Add to the conundrum the fact that Minister of Justice, Andrew Little wants to repeal the Three-Strike law. It appears to meet all its promises Labour will have to operate a ‘catch and release’ policy to justify the additional police and a revolving prison door to meet the target of reducing the prison numbers by 30%.   

So in a nutshell at present we have a Minister promising more Police to ‘lock-up the bad guys and ‘smash gangs’, another Minister wanting to reduce the prison population and make bail easier to get and yet another Minister wanting to repeal legislation that currently stops the recycling of recidivist offenders.

While we certainly hope these initiatives work the only way these three Ministers can meet their stated objectives is to operate a Catch-and-Release police strategy and a Revolving-Prison-Door prison programme.


My life changed forever

By Emma Stevens, sister of Matthew

Three years ago, on the 24 November 2014, my life changed forever. I received a phone call from my parents in the early hours of that morning to say my brother Matt was missing.  What unravelled over the following days, weeks, year(s) and even still to this very day is a nightmare no human consciousness can comprehend, until it becomes their own reality.

My only brother who I loved more than anything, my life buddy who was always there for me and my whole world, was brutally beaten with a hammer and stabbed to death by three people, and then dumped on the Paekakariki Hill. 

Next came court hearings, plea bargaining, discounted sentences and reduced charges, resulting in only one of the three offenders involved being charged with murder. The court hearings and sentencing took a year to unfold and because it involved three different offenders it felt like it would just never end. Five weeks after the sentencing had ended; one of the offenders was eligible for parole. So then begun the ordeal of the parole hearings, at the beginning stages of this crime I got to meet Victim Support. They were there to inform us that we were eligible for financial cover for funeral costs and 30 free counselling sessions each. 

The Sensible Sentencing Group Trust (SSGT) have been by my side through the entire ordeal and went way beyond what Victim Support offered. SSGT came to my attention when my counsellor told me about a woman who was a real inspiration and someone I needed to meet. She is an advocate for SSGT and a big support to victims of serious crime. She has also been through a similar ordeal herself. I contacted SSGT and I remember feeling like I had met my new family. These people really had my back, listened to me, and helped me with victim impact statements, understanding legal jargon, what was coming next and how to prepare myself for the parole experience. Support goes beyond financial support, and SSGT continues to give me a level of support that cannot be measured by a number of counselling sessions, or funeral costs or petrol money to get to parole hearings.  The work the SSGT do with victims is life changing as well as legislation changing. They help to incorporate and know that there is a victim at the centre of the offending and not the other way around.

Once the offenders are sentenced, everybody else’s lives continue on, but your life doesn’t; it’s never the same ever again and things seem a lot harder. I still feel like I live in a void and am faced with all sorts of daily challenges everyday as I navigate my new life without my brother. Not only am I affected physically and emotionally, I am also affected spiritually and mentally. Each phase I go through in this journey is difficult and presents all sorts of challenges. 

I received 30 counselling sessions which I used up in the first year of my horrific ordeal.  I will never get my brother back, and I know it will never get better, it will just be different and that I will have to learn how to live life without him. I now have to pay for my own counselling, doctor appointments when I can’t sleep, and still get to pay my taxes which support criminals in prison to be rehabilitated, access free health care, free haircuts and free dental care while their victims continue to be affected and have to carry on. The SSGT have given me the advice I have needed at exactly the right time, they have advocated for me when I couldn’t advocate for myself. Victims don’t always know what they need until it is right in front of them and when it is, it’s usually like a tonne of bricks that fall hard on your heart and soul. SSGT need and deserve government funding, so they can continue to make a difference to the lives of victims in New Zealand.  

The phase I am entering very soon is when the offenders are released and are back living in the very community I live in. I know I have my family at the SSGT who will be there for me when I need them and this helps me to stand strong.

[ 1st STRIKE ] One of the offenders involved in Matthew’s murder was Darrin Willkie-Morris who already had a violent history. Jail terms for violent robbery, kidnapping, aggravated robbery and assault, all on separate occasions. He received 5 years for his part in Matthew’s murder and thanks to Three-Strikes, was given his first strike. If Three-Strikes had been in place for his earlier offending Matthew would be alive today.

[ 2nd STRIKE ] Rhys Ross forced his way into a house and held a knife to a pregnant women’s stomach demanding money.  He was sentenced to 5 years jail and will serve the full sentence because he is on a final Three-Strike warning. Ross has a substantial criminal history.

[ 3rd STRIKE ] Kingi Ratima was sentenced under the Three-Strikes act after more than 100 convictions, the last committing a violent robbery.  The Judge was able under the Three-Strikes law to dictate an immediate 10 year sentence, but Judge Gordon opted to use the ‘manifestly unjust’ clause and used the minimum period of 5 years!

SST says what is Mr Little going to do with these scum if he throws out the Three-Strikes Act? Because of Three-Strikes we know we will be safe from Ross for 5 years. Why the Judge didn’t use the law and stick with the 10 year sentence for Ratima is beyond us.

It’s a worry and as a Trust we will fight all the way to parliament next year for people like Matthew.

Application for funding to the Ministry of Justice Victim Centre - A devastating blow for us

The Sensible Sentencing Group Trust (SSGT) is the charitable arm of the Sensible Sentencing Trust (SST) and our specific purpose is supporting victims of serious violent and/or sexual crime, homicide and manslaughter. We provide an inclusive end to end service that ensures the victims of serious violent crime, victims of sexual violence and families of victims of homicide and manslaughter are fully supported from the time of the incident until and after parole hearings.  We ensure that victims are aware of their rights and entitlements and are led through the justice process, rather than being left to discover what they don’t know.  We provide a single point of contact for victims and facilitate access to appropriate services within the criminal justice system.  

We believe the service we provide does so much more than those currently in place. Every day we work and support victims; often from when the crime is first committed, to court indication hearings, court call-overs, trials, appeals and Parole Board hearings. This support can span as much as 15 years or more, depending on the non-parole period imposed. We liaise with Police, Lawyers, Crown Prosecutors and various government agencies among others; where and when needed. What we do is 24 hours, 7 days a week; crime does not just happen in normal working hours, and so much of what we do is reactive.

We offer an understanding of the criminal justice process, to assist in re-establishing wellbeing, ensuring the victims have a voice during court proceedings thus empowering them during the process. We aim to ensure they feel valued, cared for and to know they really are important. While their lives will never be the same, we aim to help them to find a sense of peace to move forward. The Victim Advocates know first-hand that when a victim receives our type of support, their anger and frustration at a system they don’t understand is drastically reduced.

We never approach victims. All victims that we support and advocate for are referred to our service in various ways - for example through groups, agencies and other avenues, including but not limited to; self-referral, Police, NGO’s, Counsellors, Doctors, journalists, word of mouth, friends, TV media.

The only source of funding we receive is through donations and fundraising. Up until now, the SSGT have covered the costs of the Victim Advocates, but this is simply no longer sustainable, so earlier this year we applied for funding from the Ministry of Justice Victim Centre, in the hope they would help us to continue what we know is vital to the long-term health, emotional needs, overall wellbeing and empowerment of the victims of crimes, and subsequently New Zealand communities.

Unfortunately, the Victims Centre advised us that regrettably they are not able to offer any funding support at this point. The Victims Centre added “However, I recognise that your Trust provides a valuable service to victims of serious crime using volunteer and charitable resources”. 

This was a devastating outcome for us, as we are desperate for funding to enable the Victim Advocates to continue this vital work. We desperately need your help; please support us by donating to SSGT.     

Leigh  Woodman –National Victim Advisor

Introducing our two new Public Awareness & Education speakers.

Carolyn Hooton in the Matamata area and Berndt Olesen in the Wellington area. Welcome aboard.

Born and still living rurally, Carolyn is from Matamata where she is employed in the agricultural sector. Carolyn is keen on horses and as she says, “who isn’t in Matamata”. Carolyn got involved with SST because she believes the over-the-top PC world we live in is making our society worse, not better.

Berndt is 64 years old and took early retirement after an international career living and working in Europe, North America, Asia, and Australia. Berndt is looking forward to working with SST as he is passionate about the victims of crime and their rights. Berndt believes SST is an important voice that needs to be heard.


Rugby Lunches WA has made us one of the benefactors of their THE TEST MATCH LUNCHEON in honour of Sir Colin Meads KNZM MBE. 

With guest speakers, Eric Rush, Sir Graham Henry, Keven Mealamu, Master of Ceremonies Greg Clark, and Special Guest Speaker Prof. Peter Friedland [Nelson Mandela’s Specialist Physician] 

This luncheon is in conjunction with the All Black v Wallabies match and will be held on Thursday 23rd August 2018 at the Langham Hotel, Auckland. 

We will be promoting this fundraiser in our next newsletter and hope you will support us - whether individually or by taking a table. It’s an amzing offer and we are very grateful to Rugby Lunches WA.

Tables of 10 $3490. For further info at this stage, email Jess at

Offender Database

We have a large database, which always needs new records added to it. This requires moderate computer skills and attention to detail. 

If you are willing to help please

visit us at
Call 0900 72 33 69 To Make A $20 Donation to SST
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