30 Aug 2010

Man who killed under-cover officer jailed 15 years

10:03 pm on 30 August 2010

A man convicted of murdering an under-cover policeman and attempting to kill another officer has been jailed for a minimum period of 15 years.

John Skinner shot Sergeant Don Wilkinson and his partner, who has name suppression, in 2008 after he discovered them trying to install a tracking device on his car in South Auckland.

Skinner was also given a term of 10 years for attempting to kill the other officer. The sentences are to be served concurrently.

His associate, Iain Clegg, was found guilty of Sergeant Wilkinson's manslaughter and sentenced to prison for eight years, with a minimum non-parole period of four years.

At the Auckland High Court on Monday, Justice Venning said Skinner and Clegg's version of what happened was unconvincing and not credible.

The judge added that letters of remorse written by the men were meaningless and filled with self-justification, serving only to upset the victims' families further.

Mother 'will never forgive cowards'

Sergeant Wilkinson's mother read out a statement in court calling Skinner and Clegg cowards and said she would never forgive them for what they have done.

Beverly Lawrie said that, while she previously thought the death penalty was a barbaric punishment, she was now a vengeful woman.

Ms Lawrie said the bottom fell out of her life the day she found out her only child had been killed and told the court it was ironic that her son was killed in New Zealand, as he had survived working covertly in some of the most dangerous places in the world.

Outside court, Ms Lawrie said she thought the sentences handed down to Skinner and Clegg were fair.

Detective Inspector Mark Gutry, who investigated the murder of one of his colleagues, says the sentence handed down shows the community and justice system will not tolerate violence against police.