The Law and Order Referendum
and other related issues in New Zealand
An indepth look at one of our worst offenders
The full facts about Taffy Hotene, the killer of Kylie Jones, are now out in the public domain. They make grim reading. The Sunday Star Times took the lead on this particular case, and ran a very good feature spread on the case, containing a number of stories, which have scanned in for your perusal (under the links). It is upon this excellent body of work that this article is based.
From an early age he seems to have had a propensity for violence, regularly beating up classmates, once so severely that he broke his victim's arm. He also once assaulted a teacher, and also used to strangle kittens and mice. Such actions are now known to be a warning sign of worse offences in the future.
His upbringing was harsh and tough, and he was fostered out to Social Welfare homes from an early age. While this was no doubt a contributory factor, alone it does not suffice as an explanation for his career in violence. What does help explain it is his association with the Black Power gang from the age of 14.
He appeared for his first attempted rape of a woman at knifepoint at 17
By 15 he was in court for theft, and again before he was 16. He appeared for his first attempted rape of a woman at knifepoint at 17. At this point, the State should have realised a serious problem was developing and got him on a rehabilitation programme while it was still possible to rehabilitate him. But nothing was done. He was jailed for just 15 months.
As soon as he was out he walked into the home of a married woman with her two and a half year old daughter and ten month old baby, and attempted to rape her, holding a knife to the baby's head. For this he was initially sentenced to two years supervision under Dan Davis of the NZ Legionnaires Academy. This may or may not have worked, but the sentence was appealed and he was imprisoned for four years.
As soon as he was released, he then attacked three women in Wanganui, in a four day reign of terror. One of them he succeeded in raping. All of them were women minding shops on their own. Each attack was reasonably well planned, and he took precautions such as discarding his clothes after each attack and taking measures to throw police dogs off his trail.
The option of preventative detention was available at that time, indeed the prosecution pressed hard for it
He was sentence to 12 years in prison for these three attacks. The option of preventative detention was available at that time, indeed the prosecution pressed hard for it, citing the extreme violence involved in all three attacks.
But the presiding judge, Justice Paul Neazor declined, saying that "It would be a dreadful prospect to impose such a sentence on a man who really had no life outside institutions". While in prison, he was rather absurdly chosen to assist in a anti-violence course in conjunction with Paul Dally, who brutally raped and slaughtered Karla Cardno.
Eight years later he was paroled (and in the ultimately obscene absurdity, it was against his will). Every indication was that he would kill again (NZ Herald article). Within eight weeks Kylie Jones was dead. Many blamed an understaffed, under-resourced and over-stretched probation service for Kylie's death, but realistically, Hotene should never have got as far as probation in the first place.
Kylie Jones will never have the second chance that Justice Paul Neazor was so keen to grant to Taffy Hotene. And her partner Aaron Stenbeck has suffered the most appalling injustice, in his own words his whole future has been stolen.
We still await a comment or apology from the Parole Board. Or from Justice Paul Neazor.
Greg Stenbeck, Aaron's father, tells some home truths in this video clip from Holmes, taken at the funeral