A teenage killer has failed to get his jail term reduced after his lawyer argued his Foetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder (FASD) was a mitigating factor in his sentencing.
Elias Pomare, then 17, last year plead guilty to the murder of Whangarei father Michael Patrick Griffin, 56, whose killing was described by prosecutors as unprovoked, brutal and callous.
Griffin, who was partially paralysed, was doing some work on his property in October 2014 when he was attacked by Pomare and Shayden Perkinson.
Griffin was hit on the head with a weapon, fracturing his skull.
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Pomare and Perkinson then set about spray painting the walls of Griffins’ home and ransacking the property, before stealing two bikes and a laptop.
The weapon was never identified and the reason for the attack was never explained.
Experts later told sentencing judge, Justice Edwin Wylie, Pomare had just been diagnosed with FASD, which was said to increase his propensity for impulsive criminal behaviour, and his vulnerability.
Justice Wylie acknowledged those factors, but said it didn’t make the prison sentence unduly harsh, and that Pomare had failed to show any remorse for his crimes.
He jailed him for life with a minimum non-parole period of 12 years.
At the Court of Appeal, Pomare’s lawyer, Lucy Postlewaight, argued FASD-induced brain damage was recognised as a “strong mitigating factor” in sentencing, and that Pomare’s diagnosis explained his late guilty plea, and his apparent lack of remorse.
She said he was more vulnerable to the negative effects of a lengthy prison sentence.
Pomare had been exposed to his mother’s alcohol abuse and had behavioural problems throughout his childhood which included drug abuse.
Medical experts said he had a significant brain dysfunction,and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
Twelve years was a “significantly long term of imprisonment for an offender with Mr Pomare’s traits,” the appeal court was told.
This was emphasised by expert opinion from specialist psychologists who said prison was a harsher place for people with disabilities.
One expert said Pomare had “expressed a genuine sorrow and heartfelt regret for his causing the death” of Griffin.
In an appeal hearing heard in April, the Court ruled that although Justice Wylie could have given a bigger discount for Pomare’s background, and had erred in not taking into sufficient consideration Pomare’s expressions of remorse, it declined to change the sentence.
“The objective seriousness of the offending must be considered,” the court said in its judgment, released Wednesday.
“This was a brutal and callous murder…involving a particularly vulnerable victim and aspects of unlawful entry into a property. An initial starting point for offending of this kind by a healthy adult could have been as high as 19 years.
“While Mr Pomare’s culpability is reduced because of his FASD and youth, and recognition must be given to the harsh effect prison may have on him, a final (non parole period) of 12 years is not manifestly excessive.”