New Zealander jailed for ‘murder in paradise’

SYDNEY, July 25, 2007 (AFP) – A New Zealander was jailed for 24 years Wednesday after being convicted of the first murder in 150 years on the tiny South Pacific territory of Norfolk Island. He will be eligible for parole after a minimum of 18 years.

Glenn McNeill, 29, murdered Australian Janelle Patton and dumped her stabbed and battered body at a picnic spot on Easter Sunday 2002 in what was dubbed by the world’s media as a “murder in paradise.”

Norfolk Chief Justice Mark Weinberg called the crime “callous and senseless” at a sentencing hearing in Sydney broadcast live to the small courthouse in Norfolk Island where McNeill had been convicted in March.

“You took the life of an innocent young woman intentionally and without any semblance of justification or excuse,” he said.

“She was a total stranger to you and had done you no harm. She died in the most appalling way.

“Your crime has shocked the small community of Norfolk Island, it has sickened the people of Australia, it demands severe punishment.”

The conviction of an outsider came as a relief to the 1,300 closely-knit permanent residents of the self-governing Australian territory, who had fallen under suspi