'Disgraceful, gutless and disempowering' - sentencing of Moko's killers slammed

Sensible Sentencing says the 17 year jail terms handed down to the killers of Moko Rangitoheriri prove how offender friendly New Zealand's justice system is.

Reporter Anna Burns-Francis has the latest from the High Court in Rotorua. Source: 1 NEWS

Tania Shailer and David William Haerewa must serve at least nine years in jail for the brutal manslaughter of the three-year old.

Scott Guthrie from Sensible Sentencing said the sentences are nothing short of disgraceful, gutless and disempowering.

Asking what planet Justice Sarah Katz is living on, Mr Guthrie said it proves NZ's justice system is unbalanced and discriminative.

Family First NZ has welcomed the 17 years given to Moko's killers but is continuing to call for a review of child abuse laws and for changes to the legal system to avoid 'plea bargains' and child abuse killers having their charges reduced from murder to manslaughter.

Violent child abusers should not get ‘manslaughter’ when the child victim gets a life sentence. - Bob McCoskrie

"The message has to be clear - if you violently abuse a child in such a way that it results in their death, then it will be treated as murder," says national director Bob McCoskrie.

Child Youth and Family spokesperson Kay Read says what David Haerewa and Tania Shailer did to Moko was disgraceful and today they have been rightly punished.

Attorney-General Christopher Finlayson said the Crown's decision to accept the manslaughter pleas of Shailer and Haerewa were motivated by the need to secure convictions and "avoid the significant risk that either of the defendants could escape such a conviction because of evidential issues".

"If the jury was not satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that Ms Shailer had murderous intent at the time she inflicted the fatal injuries, then neither she nor Mr Haerewa could have been convicted of murder," Mr Finlayson said

And the NZ Bar Association says it has every confidence in the process by which the Solicitor-General considers whether a murder charge ought to be down-graded to manslaughter.

"Suggestions that the process is flawed or that financial implications are relevant to the decision are misconceived and wrong," president Clive Elliott QC says.

"The tragic cases involving the death of a baby or an infant often present evidential challenges for the prosecution. If the admissible evidence does not meet the threshold to secure a conviction on a particular charge it will be necessary to down-grade the charge to one where the threshold is satisfied."