Youth who confessed to killing Callington nurse Pirjo Kemppainen jailed for at least 15 years
by: Court Reporter Sean Fewster
February 15, 2012 10:12AM
THE teenager who confessed to the murder of retired Callington nurse Pirjo Kemppainen will serve at least 15 years' jail.
The Supreme Court this morning ordered the boy, 15, be jailed for life with a 15-year non-parole period.
In sentencing, Justice Margaret Nyland said the boy's crime was disturbing and savage.
"As I place your crime at the highest level of seriousness, it is necessary to fix a substantial non-parole period, notwithstanding the fact you are only 15 years old," she said.
"I should also explain your release on parole will not be automatic... (it) will very much depend on how you behave, and respond to treatment, in custody."
The boy pleaded guilty to murdering Ms Kemppainen, 63, in her home in September 2010.
Details of the murder are suppressed because a co-accused will stand trial next month.
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Under South Australian law, the crime of murder results in an automatic life sentence and a mandatory minimum non-parole period of 20 years.
Children are, however, exempt from that minimum under the Young Offenders Act.
Judges are required to craft a sentence that provides "such care and guidance as necessary" to help the offender become "a useful member of the community".
That must be balanced with the need to deter the youth from re-offending, to prevent others from copying their actions and the need to protect the community.
In sentencing today, Justice Nyland said Ms Kemppainen was a shy, petite and much-loved woman who had done her killer no harm.
"A particularly disturbing aspect of this crime is that the selection of Ms Kemppainen as a victim was entirely random... she was a complete stranger to you," she said.
"Your sole motivation... was your wish to kill someone (and) you subjected her to what can only be described as a frenzied and relentless attack."
Last month, medical experts told the court the boy had been raised on a "constant diet" of violent entertainment by a father who encouraged retaliation.
They said his problems included mild retardation, a low IQ a lack of empathy and difficulty with problem-solving.
On the day of the murder, he had been suspended from school for fighting with another student who had teased him.
"To put it another way, when you become fixated on an idea the consequences of what you are about to do or the thought of doing anything else go by the wayside," Justice Nyland said.
"(Medical experts) said killing Ms Kemppainen was a callous (act) that was all about the re-empowerment of yourself."
Justice Nyland said it was "always momentous" when a youth confessed to murder, and that it showed "some evidence" of contrition.
"You have begun to realise the enormity of your actions and their devastating effects on people," she said.
However, many years of intense counselling, therapy and education would be needed to ensure the boy could become a responsible member of the community.
Justice Nyland said that help would be provided in youth detention until the boy turned 18, at which time the court would consider whether to leave him there or transfer him to an adult jail.
"I am obliged to assume you have the potential for rehabilitation which can be realised," she said.
"I must also take into account the question of community protection, and that is a matter that causes me considerable concern.
"Achieving an appropriate balance is a difficult task (which) to some extent requires me to gaze into a crystal ball.
"It's not easy, at this stage, to assess your rehabilitative prospects."
She said the non-parole period would have been 25 years, had the boy not pleaded guilty.
Ms Kemppainen's family did not comment outside court.
She said any release on parole would depend on him responding to treatment and dealing with his numerous behavioural problems while in custody.
Though wanting to encourage his rehabilitation, Justice Nyland said Ms Kemppainen's murder was far too severe for anything less than a 15-year minimum term.
Under South Australian law, murder carries a maximum life sentence with a mandatory minimum term of 20 years.
Young offenders, however, are exempt from that minimum under the terms of the Young Offenders Act.
Last month, the court was told the boy had been raised on a "constant diet" of violent entertainment by a father who encouraged retaliation.
Forensic psychologist Dr Luke Broomhall gave evidence that, once the boy fixated on a "single-minded determination" to kill, he lacked the intellectual capacity to change his mind.
"His primary motivation is to become empowered, in any situation in which he feels disempowered, by any means necessary," he said.
"Unfortunately, `any means necessary' includes taking down other people, innocent or guilty."
Dr Broomhall said the boy's drive to kill arose from four factors:
COGNITIVE impairment that left him "mildly retarded", practically illiterate and with an IQ of between 60 and 71.
LIFELONG exposure to domestic violence.
TEASING, bullying and bashing at school that fostered hatred for others and a belief all strangers are enemies.
RELIANCE on his "constant diet" of violent movies and video games.
Dr Broomhall said on the day of the murder the boy was suspended for fighting at school.
"He experienced disempowerment and sanction in one situation and transferred his feelings on to an innocent third party," he said.
"(That) allowed him to express revenge and retribution."
In a victim impact statement, Ms Kemppainen's sister, Liisa Werchon, said she struggled to understand the boy's motive.
"I feel deep anger toward (him) and wonder: What sort of person will he develop into if he can commit an evil act so early in his life?" she said.