Dean Cole sentenced for 12 years for the murder of his son Blair Cole

Dean Cole, pictured, was found guilty of shooting and killing his son Blair Cole in Mohaka on October 12.
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Dean Cole, pictured, was found guilty of shooting and killing his son Blair Cole in Mohaka on October 12.

Dean Cole was suffering under a "reign of terror" so severe he slept with his door bolted and carried a knife to protect himself from his son.

A mixture of mental health, consistent abuse and death threats caused him to snap on October 12 last year, killing his son Blair Cole with a single shot to the chest.

He pleaded guilty to murder in February but the circumstances of the crime prompted a judge to make the uncommon decision on Tuesday not to impose a life sentence, as it would be "manifestly unjust".

Police at the scene of the shooting in Mohaka.

Police at the scene of the shooting in Mohaka.

In the High Court at Gisborne, Justice Helen Cull instead sentenced Dean Cole to 12 years in jail with a minimum non-parole period of six years.

He was just the eighth person to receive less than a life sentence for murder.

According to the summary of facts, Dean Cole raised concerns with his son in 2015 about them living in the same house together in the rural Hawke's Bay settlement of Mohaka.

Blair Cole had been violent towards family members for a number of years. He had assaulted his brother, sister and mother on separate occasions.

He also used methamphetamine and had mental health problems.

Dean Cole's lawyer Susan Hughes QC argued that during their time living together, constant death threats and abuse by Blair Cole led his father to be a "battered defendant".

Dean Cole was so scared for his life, he slept with his door bolted and would often carry a knife with him, she said.

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The night prior to the murder, Dean Cole stayed awake "all night" and considered ways to finally "put a stop" to his son's aggressive behaviour.

"He considered using a knife to stab the victim in each of his legs to permanently disable him," the summary of facts said. "He then decided that he would shoot the victim to render him immobile and 'wheelchair' him." 

A large point of contention between the pair was the fact Blair Cole believed he had not received his fair share of inheritance from his grandmother's estate.

On the morning of the shooting, Dean Cole went to the bank to get statements that would show his son he had been gifted a reasonable share.

He gave the statements to Blair Cole, went to the shed, retrieved his gun, returned to the house and shot his son while he sat on a bed.

Crown prosecutor Steve Manning agreed Dean Cole had been abused, but said it did not justify the shooting.

He argued that the level of premeditation showed provocation could not be considered as a factor.

In her summing up, Justice Cull quoted Dean Cole's 111 phone call when he described living with his son as being under "a reign of terror".

She took two years off his sentence for an early guilty plea and demonstration of remorse.

Cole yelled out as he was taken out of the courtroom: "I'll do every day for my son, your honour."

Rebekah Charlton, manager of Caring for Carers Hawke's Bay, said the tragedy highlighted the dangers of someone looking after an unwell relative becoming isolated from support services.

"In the the middle of nowhere, probably with not a very good internet connection, probably without the funds to go to a support group, you can see how it gets difficult for people."

OTHERS WHO RECEIVED LESS THAN LIFE FOR MURDER

* Donella Knox - sentenced to four years' jail in December for the murder of her 21-year-old severely autistic daughter, Ruby. Justice Joe Williams said it was part mercy killing and part self-defence

* Shaun Innes - jailed for ten years in November, 2014, for his part in the fatal stabbing of Tony Lochhead during a drugs robbery gone wrong. Justice Rachel Dunningham said Innes played a lesser role in the murder.

* Jordan Nelson - sentenced to 18 years' jail in December 2012 for murdering his de facto grandfather's partner, Rose Kurth. Justice Paul Heath said Nelson,13, was too young to be given the mandatory life sentence.

* Rachel Rihia - sentenced to ten years' jail in October 2012 for the murder of her husband Joseph Rihia. Justice Kit Toogood said the Rihias had a relationship plagued by alcohol and violence.

* Blake Cunnard - sentenced to ten years' jail in April 2012 for being a party to the fatal shooting of Troy Minto in 2009. Justice Forrest Miller said Cunnard held the gun, and had an opportunity to shoot him, but did not.

* Jacqueline Wihongi - jailed for eight years in September 2010 for stabbing her partner, Vivian Hirini, in the chest with a kitchen knife. Justice John Wild said Wihongi had a tragic "history of victimhood".

* Rex Law - jailed for 18 months in August 2002 for murdering his wife Olga, who had Alzheimer's disease. Justice Tony Randerson was satisfied the couple had agreed on a death pact.

 - Stuff

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