Free Zak now! The NT can pardon Zak now. Stop the mandatory sentencing in the NT!
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Imagine serving time in prison for murder – even when you weren’t present at the scene of the crime.
It might reek of injustice, but for Zak Grieve, this is his reality.
The 19 year old Katherine man was convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment, with a non-parole period of 20 years for killing local man Ray Niceforo.
This was despite no forensic evidence being found at the scene of the crime to link Grieve to the murder.
The trial judge noted that the deceased, Ray Niceforo, had a history of physical and emotional abuse towards his ex-partner, Bronwyn Buttery.
Over the course of several years, Niceforo choked Buttery, burnt her with cigarettes, assaulted her and threatened to kill her.
He also made threats to kill her son, Christopher Malyshcko.
As a result of his violent conduct and death threats, Malyshcko and his mother determined that the only way to deal with Niceforo was to kill him.
Accordingly, Malyshcko sought $15,000 from his mother to organise the killing.
One of the persons whom he recruited to carry out the killing was Zak Grieve.
However, the trial judge found that Grieve had pulled out of the plans before the murder was carried out, and was not actually present at the time of the murder.
Grieve also stated that while he had initially agreed to help with the murder, he later “chickened out.”
This was confirmed by a lack of Grieve’s DNA evidence at the scene.
Instead, the judge found that Malyshcko and another recruit, Darren Halfpenny, brutally killed Ray Niceforo in his apartment by hitting him numerous times over the head with a wrench.
Their DNA was found at the apartment.
Niceforo died at the scene, and Malyshcko and Halfpenny disposed of his body in bushland by the side of a road. Following a lengthy trial, Brownyn Buttery was found guilty of manslaughter for her role in procuring the killing and paying the $15,000 to Malyhcko for organising it.
She escaped a conviction for murder as the jury found that she had suffered moderate depression and battered woman’s syndrome as a result of Niceforo’s ongoing abuse towards her, and was sentenced to 8 years imprisonment, with a non-parole period of 4 years.
Her son, Christopher Malyshcko, who bludgeoned Niceforo to death using a wrench, was sentenced to life imprisonment, with a non-parole period of 18 years.
But Zak Grieve, who wasn’t even at the scene of the crime, was also convicted and received a sentence of life imprisonment with a non-parole period of 20 years. The injustice in this case stems from mandatory sentencing laws, which were introduced in the Northern Territory in 2013.
The law says that, while Grieve did not kill Niceforo, he was able to be convicted of murder as he did not actively prevent the murder by disclosing the group’s plans to police.
Under the laws, a person convicted of murder must be sentenced to life imprisonment, with a standard non-parole period of 20 years.
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