One-punch killer jailed
A naval rating who killed a man with a single punch outside an Auckland McDonald's has been jailed for two years and four months.
Grenville David McFarland, 27, a navy combat weapons specialist, was sentenced in the High Court in Auckland today for the manslaughter of Tarun Asthana, 25, a trainee teacher from Sandringham.
Justice Pamela Andrews said McFarland and Asthana came together in the central-city Britomart McDonald's on the morning of Saturday, November 2, 2013, after a night out drinking.
McFarland dropped a drink and Asthana started a slow-clap that no-one else joined in.
Asthana shook hands with McFarland, who accepted it good-naturedly.
Asthana then turned his attention to a woman McFarland had arrived with.
He blew a straw wrapper in her face and said he did it because she was "standing there looking good".
He continued to pester the woman, and on the way out of the restaurant Asthana smacked the woman on the bottom.
McFarland put his food on the ground and punched Asthana once in the left side of the face.
Asthana's head hit the pavement and he was knocked unconscious, bleeding from the nose and ear.
He was taken to Auckland Hospital, where he died three days later.
Yvette Asthana told the court that her son loved outdoor sports and the adrenaline rush of taking risks.
He had an affinity with children and was a devoted trainee teacher.
"He was an intelligent boy and well-liked. He had a quirky style of dressing," she said.
She worried about her son after he was "pulled into the drinking culture of this country".
"All my dreams, all my plans and my plans for Tarun were taken away in one deadly blow," she said.
Her son's "cheekiness" led to the assault, but she thought McFarland had no idea the damage his punch was going to do.
Prosecutor Warren Cathcart said McFarland's blow was to the head and of such force that Asthana was unable to break his fall.
McFarland left the scene despite knowing that Asthana must have needed assistance, he said.
McFarland took part in two restorative justice sessions with the Asthana family, and Yvette Asthana had accepted his apology.
His lawyer, Ron Mansfield, sought home detention, saying there could be no doubt his client was remorseful for the "unintended tragedy".
McFarland's character was demonstrated by his resignation from the navy, recognising that he had brought it into disrepute.
He had used his experience to speak to groups of youths on the dangers of violence.
Mansfield said McFarland would have stayed to assist if he knew the extent of Asthana's injuries.
The punch was hard, but McFarland was a tall, strong man.
It was not a "blindside"punch and it was not the punch that caused the serious injury. It was the falling to the ground and hitting the concrete that did the damage, Mansfield said.
Justice Andrews said McFarland had a low risk of reoffending and was assessed to have no rehabilitative needs.
Family members spoke of him as a young man of good character, the judge said.
"You realise if you had handled the situation differently life would have been very different for you," she said
"You accept there is no excuse or justification for your response."
A psychologist's report said McFarland had "immense feelings of guilt, shame, remorse and sorrow".
The judge began with a starting point of four years and reduced it to two years and four months for his remorse, his actions afterwards and his guilty plea.