Sentencing for homicide
The purposes of sentencing
11.11Sentencing is not meant simply to punish. It is also intended to promote community protection and assist offenders to rehabilitate and reintegrate. To this end, pre-sentence reports include information on the offender’s rehabilitative needs and future risk of offending.
11.12The courts in the cases we have reviewed have consistently addressed the defendants’ prospects of rehabilitation and risk of reoffending. In R v Erstich, R v Raivaru and R v Wharerau, the defendants’ youth and prospects of rehabilitation and reintegration were found to warrant sentence discounts. As for risk of reoffending, there are examples in both directions. In some cases, low risk has mandated a less restrictive penalty, and in one case the Court considered a lengthy sentence might actually increase the risk of reoffending, because in an adult prison the defendant would be exposed to “older criminals who may lead you further astray”.
11.13Among cases in which the risk of reoffending was considered to be higher are R v Wihongi and R v Rihia – the two most recent murder cases – and in both, risk was relevant to the length of the finite term of imprisonment. In Wihongi, fresh evidence about the appellant’s risk contributed to the Court of Appeal’s conclusion that the finite term should be increased, and in Rihia, the Court noted the need for “community protection” in determining sentence.