7 May 2010

Life sentence for man who killed liquor store owner

10:50 pm on 7 May 2010

The man who shot and killed a South Auckland liquor store owner will spend at least 17 years in jail.

Navtej Singh, 30, died from single gunshot wound to his stomach the day after his Manurewa store was robbed at gunpoint on 7 June 2008.

Mr Singh was shot by Anitilea Chan Kee as he stood behind the counter with his hands above his head. The 22-year-old was found guilty of murder by a jury in March this year.

On Friday, Chan Kee was given a life sentence in the High Court in Auckland with a minimum non-parole period of 17 years.

The crime was one of three violent killings in South Auckland within a fortnight and sparked an anti-crime rally through the streets.

Five others convicted of the aggravated robbery of the liquor store were also sentenced. Jason Maseri, Myron Felise, Tino Felise, Eti Filoa and Walter McCarthy received jail sentences ranging from two-and-a-half years to six-and-a-half years.

Justice Laing told the court the destruction Chan Kee caused to people's lives could not be tolerated.

The judge said South Auckland has a serious problem with armed robberies of small businesses and the sentences imposed on Friday must serve as a deterrent to other young men who may be considering such reckless action.

Justice Laing said he could see no reason why Chan Kee had shot Mr Singh, who was complying with his requests in the robbery.

Earlier, Mr Singh's widow Harjinder Kaur wept as she read her victim impact statement, telling the court her life had been destroyed and her family's dream shattered.

Ms Kaur told Justice Laing that she is only living for her three young children. She said they often ask when their father is coming back, and she wonders if his killer has ever imagined what he has done to the family.

Through his lawyer, Chan Kee made an apology to the Singh family, saying he is ashamed of his actions and was willing to pay for them.

A spokesperson for the Singh family says they are happy with the judge's ruling and feel justice has been served. However, Daljit Singh says while the family is taking into consideration Chan Kee's remorse, it cannot bring Navtej Singh back to his children, wife and parents.