Pair jailed for ‘horrific’ petrol fire death video

John Kirk-Anderson/Fairfax NZ

Terry Smith's brother, Brian Childs, and ex wife Michelle Smith, speak of after the sentencing of Shay Webster and Jason Barr for Terry's manslaughter.

The grieving family of a man who died after he was doused with petrol and set alight are angry at the "inadequate" period of time his killers will spend behind bars.

They believe Jason Alistair Barr, 44, and Shay Barry Webster, 22, who have more than 100 convictions between them, pose a high risk of reoffending and will be a danger to society when they walk free.

In the High Court at Christchurch today, the duo were jailed for less than six years each after earlier pleading guilty to the manslaughter Terry Martin Smith, 55.

KILLED: Terry Martin Smith, 55, suffered petrol burns to about 30 per cent of his body.
Supplied

KILLED: Terry Martin Smith, 55, suffered petrol burns to about 30 per cent of his body.

Smith received fatal burns to 30 per cent of his body at a home in Woolston, Christchurch, on Anzac Day last year. He died in hospital a fortnight later.

"This was not a quick death but an agonising one," Justice Cameron Mander said.

The court heard that the trio were drinking together at the property on Sullivan Ave.

Webster and Barr confronted Smith in a bedroom and accused him of being a paedophile.

Smith denied the allegations, which subsequent police inquiries established were unfounded.

Barr fetched a tin of petrol and doused him with it.

A witness returned to the house and noticed a strong smell of petrol.

Ad Feedback

Upon entering the bedroom, he found Barr holding a petrol can and heard him say to Smith: "You paedo scum - you're lucky I don't set you on fire".

Webster was holding a lighter, which he flicked twice about 30cm from Smith.

The witness said Barr looked shocked when the fumes "ignited in a ball of flames". He had not told Webster to do anything.

Barr helped put out the flames with a fire extinguisher and called 111.

At Christchurch Hospital, Smith told a detective: "Jason poured petrol over me and Shay lit me up."

He was then intubated and never regained consciousness. He died on May 8.

Crown prosecutor Mark Zarifeh said there was an element of vigilantism in the offending. The pair said they only intended to scare Smith, but the Crown said it was an act of retribution against a perceived paedophile.

There were difficulties in proving murderous intent, Zarifeh said.

Webster's defence counsel Serina Bailey said the incident arose from an alcohol-driven reckless episode.

The psychological report indicated that Webster had only borderline cognitive ability.

Barr's defence counsel Kirsten Gray said her client expressed remorse for the pain he had caused the victims. It was spur of the moment situation rather than a planned and sinister vigilante attack.

Justice Mander accepted the pair did not intend Smith's death.

Barr was jailed for five years and seven months with a minium non-parole period of two years, nine months.

Webster was sentenced to five years and three months in jail, with a minimum non-parole period of two years, six months.

Smith's ex-wife Michelle Smith described the sentences as "deeply concerning".

"A loved family member has been taken away and the value of their life has been minimalised by what we believe to be a totally inadequate sentence."

Barr's father Alistair Barr held up the BNZ in Lumsden in 1983 and made off with more than $106,000.

He and an associate later murdered his accomplice, Gibson Grace.

 - The Press

Ad Feedback
special offers
Ad Feedback