Danny Brian Mayes
From the Dominion Post 17th October 2003
One of the first murderers to escape a life jail term under the new Sentencing Act received the wrong sentence, the Court of Appeal says. In a judgment issued yesterday, the court said Danny Brian Mayes' case was not one of the rare murders that deserved a lighter sentence than the usual life imprisonment. Mayes, 34, had admitted murdering his sometime girlfriend Karnia Carswell at Napier in May last year. A High Court judge sentenced Mayes to serve at least eight years of a 12-year term. Under a life jail term an offender can be paroled after serving 10 years.
The Court of Appeal said the Sentencing Act 2002 allowed for a sentence other than life imprisonment if life would be "manifestly unjust". It said the High Court judge's assessment that Mayes was due "something off; but not too much", fell far short of meeting the manifest injustice test. Mayes suffered serious head injuries in a car crash in 1989 that left him with mental problems including impulsiveness, aggression and difficulties with noise or conflict. He also had permanent physical disabilities. Alcohol and cannabis abuse complicated his problems.
The High Court judge had decided that Ms Carswell badly goaded Mayes the night he stabbed her to death. The Court of Appeal said Mayes had been in court earlier that day on a charge of assaulting Ms Carswell. His bail conditions were that he did not drink alcohol or have contact with her, but he did both when she came to his house with a bottle of bourbon. They ended up fighting. A lone police officer had to handcuff Ms Carswell to a porch railing to separate the pair. The police officer left when both sides assured him there would be no more trouble. Later Mayes told police that Ms Carswell kept threatening to have him killed and he ended up stabbing her to shut her up.
From the Dominion Post 20th December 2003
A Napier man has escaped a life sentence for murdering his partner, because of a brain injury that may have affected his behaviour on that night. In the High Court at Napier yesterday, Danny Brian Mayes, 34, was sentenced to 12 years' jail with a minimum non-parole period of eight years for stabbing Karnia Carswell, 28, to death in his home on May 22.
Justice Hammond decided on the sentence after accepting defence lawyer Tony Snell's submissions that Mayes' behaviour was affected by a brain injury he sustained from a car accident. The new Sentencing Act lets judges impose a sentence less than life if such a term would be unjust. Mayes pleaded guilty last month. Experts then gave evidence of how being thrown through a car windscreen led to Mayes' behaviour changes. Justice Hammond accepted Mayes' injury affected his actions.
Date of Birth
Murder of his partner in Napier in May 2002
Sentenced to twelve years with an eight year non-parole period in December 2002
Changed on appeal to life with a ten year non-parole period in October 2003
Due to be considered for parole May 2012
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OFFENCES / CONVICTIONS
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