John Arthur Burrett
NZ Herald story here
The Dominion Post, June 19th 2003
THE wife of would-be kidnapper John Arthur Burrett says the family will appeal against the "totally over the top" seven-year prison sentence handed down yesterday. Speaking hours after her husband was led away from the High Court at Wellington, a distressed Jennifer Burrett said the sentence - the longest possible for the offence would be challenged. "I have no doubt there will be an appeal." Justice Hammond, who described Burrett, 53, as the manipulative central villain in the plot to kidnap Wellington businessman Bill Trotter, said the law "constrained" him to a seven-year maximum term, which some might think surprisingly low.
He had considered making the sentence on a shotgun charge cumulative to the kidnapping sentence, but thought that legally he could not. After the sentencing, retired detective inspector Norm Cook, who headed the investigation, said the case showed the need for the maximum sentence for conspiring to kidnap to be raised. Mrs Burrett, a Wellington real estate consultant, said she thought 3 1/2 or 4 1/2 years would have been adequate. "It was a conspiracy, nothing was actually carried out. People can rape and get a lesser sentence." Choking back tears, Mrs Burrett, who was not in court for the sentencing, said she had not heard from her husband but was expecting him to call from prison last night.
The conviction and severity of the sentence had shaken her belief in New Zealand, the former British citizen said. "I thought New Zealand was a wonderful country .... and I felt very privileged to be here. I am having grave doubts now. "Burrett's decision to defend himself - which infuriated Justice Hammond several times during the seven-week trial - had not been a ruse, she said. "I couldn't afford the legal bills. He had no alternative." They hired a solicitor and barrister but stood them down after receiving a bill of $6500. It is believed the couple's assets had prevented them from claiming legal aid.
Justice Hammond said Burrett had to serve the maximum two-thirds of his sentence before parole - likely to result in a total of 4 1/ 2 years behind bars. Burrett's godson and nephew, Matthew Norman Payne, 22, was sentenced to five years and was also to serve the maximum before being eligible for parole, resulting in an effective term of just under 3 1/2 years. Payne, a long-term visitor from Britain, faces deportation at the end of his sentence. Justice Hammond said there should be no doubt who the central villain in the conspiracy was. Payne knew what he was doing but came under the "malignant influence" of Burrett.
The plan to hold Mr Trotter in a buried bunker in woods north of Upper Hutt was callous and perhaps highly dangerous, due to lack of ventilation or water seeping into the bunker. "You have to look at the reality of the situation and when you look at the reality of this one, it is pretty darned grim." He said he could not turn a blind eye to Burrett's stepson, Simon Phillpott, 35, who was also involved, telling police Mr Trotter was to be held for $1 million ransom. He sentenced Phillpott in March to 2 1/2 years' jail. Phillpott had pleaded guilty to charges of conspiring to kidnap with intent to hold for ransom and having the sawn-off shotgun. He has now been released.
Date of Birth
1950 (D.O.B. is approximate)
Aldington, Kent, UK
Sentenced to 7 years with a 4 year 8 month non parole period in July 2003
Additional Photos & Files
Associated Media Links John Arthur Burrett - Matthew Norman Payne Appeal Notes
John Arthur Burrett - Matthew Norman Payne Sentencing Notes
OFFENCES / CONVICTIONS
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