A man who had previously been jailed in Australia for the manslaughter of a teenage boy has been given one of New Zealand’s longest non-parole sentences for the murder of a 13-year-old Christchurch schoolgirl.
Abuse was yelled at Jeremy McLaughlin on Wednesday as he was led from the dock after being sentenced by a New Zealand court to at least 23 years behind bars for the 2011 murder of Jade Bayliss.
McLaughlin narrowly avoided being the first person to be jailed for life without parole.
During his trial in the High Court at Christchurch, the crown said McLaughlin strangled Jade – the daughter of his ex-girlfriend – and put socks in her mouth when she found him burgling the family home, and then set fire to the house to try to cover it up.
In 2001, McLaughlin was deported back to New Zealand from Australia after serving four years for the manslaughter of 14-year-old Perth boy Phillip Vidot.
McLaughlin was 18 when he and two others killed Phillip when they robbed him in a Perth park of his joggers and wallet in 1995.
Christchurch police were aware of the conviction, but privacy laws prevented them from disclosing it to Jade’s mother.
Although specialist reports to Justice Graham Panckhurst labelled McLaughlin as a medium- to high-risk candidate for reoffending, he turned down a crown request for a life sentence without parole.
Justice Panckhurst said he was taking into account submissions, victim impact reports and McLaughlin’s Australian manslaughter conviction in handing down the 23-year non-parole sentence.
Jade’s mother, Tina Bayliss, described her daughter as the “apple of her eye” who was an exceptional student at Cashmere High School and who had everything to live for.
Ms Bayliss said never a day went by that she didn’t blame herself for what had happened. She described herself as having been always enthusiastic about life but that she now suffered from constant depression.
She and her ex-husband Gary Bayliss said they constantly worried about the effect of Jade’s murder on their two younger daughters.
Justice Panckhurst said he found McLaughlin’s denial of the murder was “simply fatuous” and that the case had been the most compelling he had ever experienced on the bench.
He added that McLaughlin’s refusal to “acknowledge the obvious was very disturbing”.
The non-parole option has been open to New Zealand sentencing since 2010 but Justice Panckhurst ruled that McLaughlin was “on the brink but not crossing the line”.