1 Sep 2011

Child killer ordered to be held in prison longer

1:34 pm on 1 September 2011

The Court of Appeal has ruled that a man who killed a child in Palmerston North will not be released until he serves at least half his prison sentence.

Cash McKinnon, aged three years, died in August 2009 of head injuries inflicted by her mother's then partner, Sean Donnelly.

He swung the child around by the ankles to punish her and her head hit at least one solid object.

In March, the High Court sentenced Donnelly to seven years in prison for manslaughter, but did not impose a minimum term. The Crown appealed.

The Court of Appeal has not increased the length of the sentence, but says a minimum prison term is necessary to condemn Donnelly's actions and to act as a deterrent.

Without it, Donnelly could be considered for parole after serving a third of his sentence, amounting to a little more than two years and three months.

However the Court of Appeal has ruled he must now serve at least half of his sentence, three-and-a-half years, before he is considered for release.