A grieving New Zealand widow's plea that no one be blamed for her husband's death failed to stop a Sydney court charging his best friend with manslaughter.
Greg Wood died in a Sydney hotel after taking heroin for the first time at the end of a boozey, drug-fuelled stag night.
Daniel Gray, who injected then desperately tried to revive Wood, was charged on Friday and will face trial next year.
During the inquest into Wood's death, his widow Kirsten said in a letter to the New South Wales state coroner Mary Jerram, that she did not blame Gray.
"Myself, Greg's family, and I'm sure Greg himself, would not want any further action as a result of his death to be taken against anyone, including Dan Gray. I can't emphasise my own and Greg's family's views on this enough. It's taken a lot for me to get through the past two-and-a-half years, and I don't feel further consequences post this inquest would be appropriate. I'm sure it would also further extenuate mine and Greg's family's grieving."
The Woods had been living in London, but Kirsten returned to New Zealand after her husband's death.
"His death came as a huge shock to all his friends and family, and [it] has been a significant loss to me," she said.
"It changed my world completely, and I returned from London to be closer to my family, particularly with a new baby on the way. Over the past two years I have often thought how could he have been so selfish and stupid to be taking a multitude of drugs that evening. But, to be honest, that was Woody. Always pushing the limits, thinking of consequences later, somehow believing he was invincible."
Jerram took Wood's letter into account, describing it as thoughtful and intelligent, and noting that Gray, who attended the inquest but did not give evidence, had been "crushed" by the tragedy. But she referred the matter to the Director of Public Prosecutions, who charged Gray.
Gray and Wood, both Kiwis, were childhood friends, who met up in Sydney for the wedding of another friend, Mark Nees. Wood, who flew in from London after stopping in New Zealand for Christmas, was to be best man.
Gray flew in from Perth, where he works as an oil rigger, arriving on the night of the party. With Nees and three other friends, they went on a pub crawl, drinking into the early hours. The statement of facts said cocaine was consumed earlier in the night, and ecstasy was handed out about 2.30am.
CCTV footage from the Citigate Hotel in Haymarket showed the pair returning at 5.06am. There, Wood told Gray he wanted to try heroin, which neither had used before. Gray told police he was reluctant, but Wood insisted.
In an extract from a police statement read to the NSW Coroner's Court, where an inquest was held last September, Gray said Wood was anxious to try the drug. "I've got to, we want to do it," Gray reported Wood as saying. "I'll be safe with you Dan . . . we'll go do it, I can't wait to do it, you know."
The pair caught a taxi to Kings Cross, where Wood paid $100 for a purple water balloon containing what they thought was a small amount of heroin. But they were too drunk to inject themselves, so decided to inject each other.
According to Gray's statement, Wood fell asleep immediately and began snoring.
Another friend, Benjamin Hunt, testified he visited the room that morning and found Gray performing CPR on Wood. An ambulance was called at 10am, an officer was present at 10.16am, but Wood was pronounced dead at 10.29am.
The Sun Herald