Family relief at guilty plea

22:10, Oct 10 2012
Pam and Pat Heagney
EMOTIONAL TIME: Pam and Pat Heagney outside the High Court in Wellington in December 2010

After three years of waiting there was no celebration for Blenheim's Heagney family yesterday, just an overwhelming sense of relief.

And they are not yet sure if they can bear an apology in person from Kevin King, 52, who yesterday admitted killing their son.

Matt Heagney's father Pat said it was good to hear former Blenheim bar owner King admit causing the death of his 24-year-old son three years ago, but his first thoughts after the guilty plea were for his wife Pam, who was not able to be in court.

Matt Heagney

Mr Heagney and his son Ryan were at the High Court at Wellington, but Mrs Heagney was in Blenheim for her mother's funeral. Mr Heagney said his priority once the case was over was to get home to see his wife and father-in-law and make sure they were all right.

It would take a long time for the realisation to sink in that their wait for justice was over, he said.

"Finally it's all over. Just a bit annoyed that he [King] didn't [plead guilty] three years ago, that he's put us through this all again, but it's good, good news.


"It will probably never be closure for us for the rest of our lives, but at least he said he was guilty and the charge was still manslaughter."

The family needed some time to decide whether they would take up King's offer to meet them and apologise personally, he said.

Ryan Heagney said it had been an emotional moment when King pleaded guilty.

Dealing with the news of the second trial and then the days in court had been tough and it was good to see the end of the case, he said.


August 23, 2009: Matt Heagney, 24, dies after his head hit the pavement while he was being removed from the Shapeshifters Bar in Blenheim about 2.40am.

November 19, 2009: Shapeshifters manager Kevin Robert King is arrested and appears in the Christchurch District Court charged with Mr Heagney's manslaughter.

December 2, 2010: King is found guilty of Mr Heagney's manslaughter after a 10 day trial in the High Court at Wellington.

February 9, 2011: King is sentenced to 12 months' home detention.

November 7, 2011: King's appeal against his conviction is heard in the Court of Appeal.

December 21, 2011: King is granted a retrial after successfully appealing against his conviction after a majority decision from the Court of Appeal found the trial judge had misdirected the jury.

October 10, 2012: King pleads guilty to a reworded charge of manslaughter after three days of his re-trial. 

The Marlborough Express