Two different sentences: The ‘inconsistencies’ between judges and the justice system

Lloyd Burr 10/12/2021

LISTEN: Two different people who both killed someone have received very different sentences this week, highlighting the inconsistencies in our justice system.

A Queenstown woman has been sentenced to only serve four and a half months home detention, despite killing someone.

Tully Robinson was drunk behind the wheel of her car in August last year. She was using her phone while driving, was speeding, and was on the wrong side of the road. 

Robinson collided head-on with another vehicle and killed local teen Allanah Walker while Walker’s boyfriend, Astin Caldwell, fractured his spine and suffered other injuries.

She was sentenced on Thursday and her 17 months home detention was reduced to just 4.5 months. 

On Friday, Eli Epiha - the man who shot and killed Constable Matthew Hunt last year - was sentenced to 27 years jail time.

Jess McVicar from the Sensible Sentencing Trust says both sentences show “the clearer inconsistencies” between our judges and the justice system.

“We’ve got this huge push to lower the prison muster, a huge push to use home detention as a favoured sentence - because they believe that the rehabilitation can work that way,” she told Lloyd Burr Live.

“But what the system is forgetting is that there are victims out there that are suffering, that there is actually no consequences for the action of these offenders and they’ve just completely forgotten about the community’s safety while favouring this home detention sentence.”

There is a clear difference between both sentences: race.

One is a Maori man who shot a police officer. The other is a privileged white woman from Queenstown who was drunk, texting, speeding and on the wrong side of the road. 

But McVicar says she doesn’t see race being played at all.

“It’s all very dependent on the judge of the day, how they feel towards the justice system, how they feel towards home detention,” she said.

Epiha had violent offences against his name prior, McVicar says.

“The judges all just judge on how they feel of the offence, whether they’ve committed a crime prior to this,” she told Magic Talk.

“The justice system is not race-based at all. If anything they’re trying to turn away from that.”

Listen to the full interview with Jess McVicar above.

Magic Talk | Lloyd Burr Live, weekdays from 4pm

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