A “calculated and cool” killer, devoid of feeling, was right to be jailed for at least 17 years, appeal judges have ruled.
Peter John Carroll, 54, beat Marcus Luke Tucker to death with a wheel lock before wrapping his body in carpet and burning and dumping him on Anzac Day 2016.
Carroll was found guilty of 36-year-old Tucker‘s murder following a jury trial in the High Court at Christchurch in last October.
Both men were involved in the city‘s drug scene, the court heard.
Carroll was sentenced by Justice Nicholas Davidson to life imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of 17 years.
But Carroll appealed the sentence, arguing the killing was not one of extreme callousness and brutality.
At a Court of Appeal hearing in Dunedin last week, defence counsel Anselm Williams argued Carroll‘s actions did not warrant an elevated prison term as dictated by section 104 of the Sentencing Act.
That legislation dictates that murders committed with a “high level of brutality, cruelty, depravity, or callousness” must be reflected by a minimum jail term of at least 17 years.
While Williams accepted there was a degree of brutality and callousness to Carroll‘s behaviour, he said it was not among the worst murders seen by the courts.
He noted Justice Davidson found the killing “reckless rather than intentional”.
During his submissions he accepted the victim was not the person Carroll intended to kill, over a perceived wrongdoing to a third party.
Justice Forrie Miller questioned whether such vigilantism required a lengthy sentence to satisfy the principles of denunciation and deterrence.
Crown prosecutor Mark Lillico said Carroll exhibited extreme callousness at all three phases of the murder – before, during and after.
Lillico also noted evidence that the beating lasted some time and involved Carroll “coolly” telling the victim to stop resisting.
He described what was done to Tucker post-death as an “indignity”.
In a decision released today, Justice Stephen Kos, Justice Miller and Justice Christine French concluded that the sentence was appropriate.
They found Carroll‘s conduct to be not only callous after Tucker died but also before and during the killing.
“He was calculated, cool and devoid of feeling at all three phases,” the appeal judges said.