Double murder – life imprisonment – minimum period of imprisonment (MPI) – circumstances of the offending – starting point – aggravating, mitigating personal factors – end sentence
R v Puata-Chaney  NZHC 1980 per Edwards J.
The defendant, Mikaere Puata-Chaney, and one of his victims, Eliza Trubuhovich, were in a relationship for about year before parting ways. However, they remained in contact.
In the period leading up to the murders, Puata-Chaney had been behaving threateningly toward Trubuhovich, partly because she had been seeing someone else. On 15 July 2022, he had argued with her on the phone about this.
Shortly after, Puata-Chaney left his home with a guitar case containing a firearm and ammunition and travelled to a house where Trubuhovich lived with her parents.
He knocked on the door and dragged Trubuhovich outside. Her father, Geoffery Trubuhovich, tried to protect her but the defendant fired several shots at him at close range, killing him. The defendant then fired several shots at Eliza Trubuhovich. As she fell to the ground, neighbours witnessed him shooting her again, killing her.
Puata-Chaney then killed Trubuhovich’s dog. Police found 10 live rounds of ammunition and eight spent cases on the front lawn of the property.
The defendant pleaded guilty to both murders. The court was given approximately 50 victim impact statements from friends, family and neighbours.
In sentencing, Edwards J had to impose a minimum period of imprisonment (MPI) of at least 17 years. She found the murders fell under s 104(c) and (h) of the Sentencing Act as Puata-Chaney had unlawfully entered the residence and there were two victims.
Applicable principle: whether circumstances warranted an MPI of more than the minimum of 17 years – callousness – unlawful entry – calculated – use of lethal weapon in suburban area – offending while on bail – whether previous firearm-related sentence warrants uplift – whether pre-existing mental health condition causally contributed to offending – violent, deprived family history – remorse – early guilty plea.
Held: Puata-Chaney was sentenced to life imprisonment, with an MPI of 20 years, six months.