Wednesday, 30 September, 2009 – 12:16
Auckland, Sept 30 NZPA – A man who kidnapped a five-year-old girl and held her for five days on Auckland’s North Shore last year has had his minimum jail term reduced.
Deqiong Deng, 26, was jailed for nine years with a minimum non-parole period of 5-1/2 years after admitting he kidnapped Cina Ma, also known as Xin Xin, in the North Shore suburb of Rothesay Bay in July last year.
But the minimum jail term was reduced to 4-1/2 years by three Court of Appeal judges in a ruling released today.
Deng did not contest the headline sentence of nine years in his appeal.
But his lawyer Adam Couchman said the sentencing judge, Justice Judith Potter, did not consider mitigating factors such as his remorse, his early guilty plea and the absence of previous convictions when considering his minimum non-parole period.
Mr Couchman also said that the minimum period was inconsistent with other rulings which set such periods at 50 percent of the headline sentence.
Crown lawyer Brett Tantrum conceded he could not point to any case of comparable offending and comparable mitigating factors where the minimum period was longer than 50 percent.
“We want to stress, however, that this does not mean that Mr Deng will be released on parole after 4-1/2 years’ imprisonment,” the judges said.
“It will be for the Parole Board at that time to determine whether or not he should be released in light of the matters it needs to consider under the Parole Act.”
Deng admitted snatching Cina Ma from her front yard and then kept her bound and gagged in a walk-in wardrobe with the windows blacked out for five days while demanding a $500,000 ransom.
He put her in a walk-in wardrobe next to a room which had the windows blacked out. He bound her arms and wrists and left her with bread, water and a bucket to use as a toilet.
Deng visited her once or twice a day from that point while he worked on his ransom demand. The next day he gagged the girl when he heard her crying.
Cina was found at the home on July 18 following an extensive police investigation. Deng was arrested later that day.
Cina’s father Mark Ma said shortly after the initial sentencing that it was too lenient.
“To be honest, I feel it’s not hard enough on a person who has done this crime to a young daughter,” he said.
“I was expecting more than nine years. I was a little bit disappointed.”