Fatal assault over a tinny

IN THE DOCK: Johnny Holman at the start of his trial.
IN THE DOCK: Johnny Holman at the start of his trial.

A Timaru man has been sentenced to three years and nine months' imprisonment for fatally assaulting Timaru father Shane Braddick over a cannabis tinny in May 2012.

Johnny Grant Holman was sentenced yesterday by Justice Christian Whata in the High Court at Timaru after pleading guilty to manslaughter in November last year.

A minimum non-parole period of 22.5 months was imposed. Holman has already been in custody for 20 months.

Justice Whata outlined the events in the early hours of May 11, 2012.

"You met the victim at Malbas Bar and Mr Braddick wanted to buy some cannabis. You said you knew where he could get some and you both went to a York St address.

"You obtained a tinny at the address but then he said he could not pay for it. You went back into the address and returned the tinny (to the occupant) and said you were going to give him (Mr Braddick) a hiding.

"You went outside and without warning you head-butted him, gave him three uppercut haymaker punches to the head, then kicked him in the head as he lay on the ground.

"In the words of a witness, you kicked him like a rugby ball."

Holman left Mr Braddick and walked along Church St. He used a payphone to dial 111 and said a man had been knocked out cold in York St. An ambulance arrived at 4.07am, but paramedics were unable to revive Mr Braddick.

Pathologist Dr Martin Sage said Mr Braddick actually died from a cardiac arrest and was found to have an enlarged heart. In the assault he had sustained a broken nose and grazes to his face.

It was his opinion Mr Braddick had died of a sudden cardiac arrest in the context of blunt force assault, while he was heavily intoxicated.

Defence lawyer Jonathan Eaton argued Holman's case was not at the high end of manslaughter as Mr Braddick had died of a cardiac arrest, due to his enlarged heart.

"The most serious injury was a broken nose, there were no life-threatening injuries, he died of a cardiac arrest. All other (manslaughter) cases referred to, they have died of their injuries."

Justice Whata rejected that argument and began with a sentencing starting point of six years.

"There were six acts of violence. You had returned the tinny and had time to reflect on what you would do but you chose to hit Mr Braddick. It is worse than single punch cases where five years starting points are approved."

Holman was given a discount for his guilty plea and remorse taking him down to three years and nine months.

Since 2004, Holman had amassed 39 convictions, mainly for dishonesty.


Last Christmas Shane Braddick's 6-year-old son asked for a telescope from Santa so he could see his dead father, the brightest star in the sky.

In the early hours of May 10, 2012, Mr Braddick died alone after a fatal assault by Johnny Holman over a tinny of cannabis.

His mother, Heather, read out a victim-impact statement in court yesterday when Holman was sentenced to three years and nine months' jail.

She recalled a son who was everything she wished for, an adorable ball of energy as a baby, who later on as an adult she would text or call each day.

"Johnny Holman changed us forever on that day. When I heard a body had been found on York St, I had a bad feeling it was Shane. There were no texts during the day and then my worst fears were confirmed when police came to work.

"Now, when I see Shane's car, I think he is coming to see me, or if I get a text, for a split second, I think it is Shane. Sometimes I have nightmares. I believe Johnny Holman has trouble sleeping, but I don't care because he caused this."

She visits her son's grave often, and takes his 6-year-old son, who plays music to him.

"It makes me so angry about the things they will never share. Last Christmas he asked for a telescope so he could see his daddy, the brightest star in the sky," she said.

"It is one year and 43 weeks since Johnny Holman destroyed many lives. I will never ever forgive him."

The Timaru Herald