A key Crown witness in a double murder trial has been given a reduced sentence for his own offending after giving evidence despite “fear” of repercussion.
Daniel de Martin was sentenced under the Arms Act 1983 on Tuesday in the Tauranga District Court to six months’ community detention and 12 months’ supervision for possession of firearms and ammunition.
Judge Paul Mabey QC massively reduced de Martin’s original sentence of four years behind bars for giving evidence in the Ōmanawa double murder trial earlier in the year.
“It is one thing for a person to give police a tip-off or provide information anonymously to assist an inquiry,” Judge Mabey told the court.
“But when someone is prepared to get in the witness box and look them in the eye, identify them and give evidence, that is the highest form of assistance.”
Samuel Deane Fane, 26, was sentenced in the High Court at Rotorua last month to life imprisonment with a 17-year minimum non-parole period for murdering Paul Lasslett and Nicholas Littlewood on February 11 last year.
A jury unanimously found him guilty of the murders and his partner Sarah Lee Tarei, 25, guilty of being an accessory after the fact following a trial in Tauranga in May. Tarei was sentenced to nine months’ home detention.
During the trial, de Martin described seeing two armed men firing shots into a shed where he found the victims “bleeding out” and also stated one of the shooters turned their gun on him.
In court yesterday, Judge Mabey said the police found numerous firearms and ammunition after conducting a search warrant at de Martin’s property.
A semi-automatic rifle was found in his shed and a variety of ammunition was found in the garage, he said.
A .223 semi-automatic assault rifle and a loaded magazine, as well as a cut down .22 semi-automatic calibre rifle and a loaded magazine were found in a boat and a .22 pistol rifle and further ammunition of “various types” were also found in his main dwelling, he said.
Judge Mabey told the court de Martin earlier denied the firearms and ammunition were his and were instead owned by the deceased, however, he pleaded guilty to the charges.
The judge earlier gave an original starting point of four years’ imprisonment but said de Martin was recently a witness to a double homicide involving a close friend.
“You gave evidence at a criminal trial identifying and indicating the killers and you did so in public without anonymity or suppression orders.”
Judge Mabey said substantial credit was due to those who put themselves at risk to help with proceedings.
“In your case, you have evidence against men charged with the most serious of crimes.
“It is not hard to imagine that you currently fear some repercussions for that.”
Judge Mabey gave de Martin a 25 per cent reduction to his sentence for his guilty plea but said he could readily increase that to 70 per cent for the help he gave to police.
A home detention sentence was not appropriate given the nominated address was not suitable, he said.
Judge Mabey said suggestions from de Martin’s lawyer Max Simpkins he suffered post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from witnessing the killings and giving evidence were not mitigating factors.
However, it did enhance the recommendation of supervision, he said.
Therefore, judge Mabey sentenced de Martin to six months of community detention and 12 months’ supervision. His firearms and ammunition will be seized.
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