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Shopkeeper Killer Would Duck Hate Crime Penalty

Today's 10 year "life sentence" for William Holtz for murdering an Indian shopkeeper shows the unprincipled nature of the government's new "hate crime" provisions in the Sentencing and Parole Reform Bill, says ACT's justice spokesman Stephen Franks.

"William Holtz has a villainous history of attacking Indian shopkeepers. He was on parole from such an attack when he murdered Shiu Prasad.

"Yet the court left the so-called `life sentence' at the standard 10-year minimum non-parole period. The court added nothing to the standard sentence for the fact that the crime was committed while Holtz was out on parole, theoretically a position of trust.

"Parole was once a reward for good behaviour, a privilege that depended on not betraying the trust. Now it can be breached by the worst crime in the book, and attract no extra penalty.

"Though Holtz had made picking on Indian shopkeepers a speciality, he would probably duck the new hate crime provisions. To get the hate crime sentence add-on would need evidence that he expressed hatred toward Indians.

"A habit of robbing and violently assaulting them would not be enough. Though his conduct was evil toward Indians, he would not merit the extra penalty reserved for the groups the government wanted to favour. Hate crime is reserved for those who express unacceptable views and have unacceptable motives. It doesn't get those who merely show callous indifference or calculated brutality.

"Holtz was heard to urge the court to hurry up as the verdict was delivered because he wanted to get back to prison in time for his gym session.

"Under ACT's approach to murder, Holtz, being on parole, would have qualified for first degree punishment, with the minimum penalty starting at 17 years," Stephen Franks said.

Ends

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