Man jailed for fatal punch
A man jailed for five years for killing a Sky TV employee with a single blow was told his fatal punch had also "beaten the stuffing" out of his victim's family and caused "grief that will never go away".
Kit John Murray today appeared in the High Court at Auckland for sentencing over the manslaughter of Billy Dawson on October 7 last year.
Dawson, 34, died in hospital after an altercation with Murray near Spy Bar, in Auckland's Viaduct basin.
Murray's friends had been in a scuffle with Dawson before he broke it up. He then, without warning, punched Dawson in the face and knocked him unconscious, causing his head to hit the pavement with a "sickening thud".
A victim impact statement read to the court today on behalf of Dawson's mother, Lee Dawson, addressed Murray directly.
"You have taken from the family a loving son, brother and uncle. You have caused us to suffer a grief that will never go away."
She told Murray she still hoped he could still make something of his life.
"I do no wish two lives to be wasted."
Dawson's former fiance had contemplated suicide and now feared big crowds, especially where alcohol was present, the court heard.
A statement from Dawson's brother in law, Coen Lammers, was also read to the court.
"This empty feeling will never go away.
"The 10,000 earthquakes (in Christchurch), already put us on the edge," and Murray's act was the "deathly final touch".
"That man ended all the promise with that punch."
The family learned of Dawson's death on his sister's birthday.
"It was supposed to be a happy day. But it was the worst day of our lives. Suzy's birthday will never be the same again. A year later there are still many days we struggle to cope.
"You not only beat the life out of Billy, the act has beaten the stuffing out of us."
The family was not present at Murray's August trial or his sentencing because they wanted to remember how he lived, not how he died, the court heard.
Amanda Kennedy, Dawson's former flat mate and friend, addressed Murray in person, describing the impact his action had on her.
"For the first time in my life, because of the actions of the offender, I had to give news of death."
She told Murray how aggression and violence caused her to have anxiety and panic attacks. She had difficulty watching TV and movies because of the casual violence, she said.
"I have constant nightmares of violence."
Justice Patrick Keane said Murray's ongoing belief that he had acted in self defence and his continued denial that he punched the victim showed he was not remorseful.
Eyewitness accounts of the force of Murray's punch and the evidence from a pathologist indicated that he intended to muster as much power as possible, he said.
Crown prosecutor Natalie Walker said Murray's punch was an "unprovoked and gratuitous act of violence".
Murray's lawyer, Andrew Speed, disputed that, saying his client was trying to help Dawson, "who was angry and under the influence of alcohol", from himself.
He said it was hard to know why the jury had not accepted Murray's explanation that he acted in self defence. Speed said Murray accepted full responsibility for his actions.
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