Manslaughter sentence 'no surprise'

ANNA WILLIAMS
Last updated 11:03 20/11/2012

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The father of Matthew Heagney said family members can begin to get on with their lives after former bar manager Kevin King was sentenced for the second time to 12 months' home detention for the manslaughter of his son.

Mr Heagney, 24, died as a result of his head hitting the pavement after he was removed from Shapeshifters Bar in Blenheim in August 2009

"We want to move on now," Pat Heagney said yesterday. "Not forget Matthew, but get on with our lives."

Mr Heagney, his wife, Pam, and their son Ryan were in the High Court at Wellington yesterday to watch King being sentenced. He was not surprised by the second sentence of 12 months' home detention, the same as the original sentence handed down in February to King, which he then appealed against.

"He was never going to get a higher sentence. He was never going to go to jail."

The family did not understand why King did not admit the charge in 2009.

"Why couldn't he have done this three years ago?" he said. "We don't know why he changed his plea, it could have been his lawyers. We don't really want to know."

The family were not interested in taking up King's offer to meet them and apologise personally. "It's never going to change the way we feel," Mr Heagney said.

"It's not going to bring our son back."

He was upset at some of the public reaction during the trial and sentencing and asked the public to respect his family at this time. "Until you've lost a son and been through what we have, you don't know what it's like," he said.

"One thing we've learned is that you shouldn't be surprised until you go through the system and see how it works. You shouldn't be surprised at anything. You've got to keep your mind open."

King's lawyer, Bryony Millar, said he had no comment to make on the sentence.

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