Murder accused mum sentenced for cutting off monitoring bracelet

She wanted some days of freedom before she stood trial for her daughter’s murder, so Southern Thompson cut off her electronic monitoring bracelet.

But now she’s been jailed for seven months after a Rotorua District Court Judge said her offending was a serious breach of failing to answer court bail.

The 27-year-old was to stand trial on February 9 this year on a charge of murdering her 18-month-old daughter, Comfort Jay Thompson-Pene, at Tirau in July 2018.

In the lead up to the trial, she had been on electronically monitored bail but five days before the trial got under way, she cut off the bracelet and took off from her approved address.

Judge Simon Menzies said three weeks had been set aside in the High Court for the trial and the inconvenience was made worse by Thompson contacting her lawyer each day when she was on the run telling him she would appear in court the next day.

That led to the jury pool having to return to court each day for three days in case the trial could start.

Judge Menzies said about 50 witnesses were inconvenienced.

Crown Solicitor Amanda Gordon said in court today three of those witnesses were expert medical witnesses who had to cancel hospital clinics to make time to attend the trial.

Gordon argued the starting point for the offending should be at or near the maximum sentence of 12 months’ imprisonment given the inconvenience.

Judge Menzies gave a starting point of 10 months’ imprisonment, saying it was very serious but not the most serious offending.

He noted Thompson told the police when she handed herself in that she “wanted a couple of days of freedom but now wanted to front up”.

“Your failure to appear impacted significantly … The police spent time and resources trying to locate you.”

After discounts were given for mitigating factors, including an early guilty plea, Judge Menzies gave a final sentence of seven months’ imprisonment.

The trial has now been put off until May next year.

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