Kiwi admits stag night manslaughter

Last updated 13:13 04/03/2013
COUPLE: Greg and Kirsten Wood.
COUPLE: Greg and Kirsten Wood.
Greg Wood
FATAL MISTAKE: Greg Wood decided to try heroin.

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A New Zealander who injected a best mate with heroin during a booze and drug-fuelled stag night in Sydney four years ago has pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

Daniel Gray admitted the charge in the Sydney District Court today and will be sentenced in May in relation to the death of fellow Kiwi Greg Wood in a Sydney hotel room on January 4, 2009.

However, Wood's widow has insisted he was not to blame. Kirsten, who was pregnant with the couple's daughter when the 33-year-old died, believed a coroner's inquest into her husband's death should have marked the end of what she considers a tragic accident.

She argued no one should be blamed for her loved one's death and wrote an impassioned plea to New South Wales state coroner Mary Jerram in 2011 urging her to let the matter rest.

However, the inquest was adjourned and the case forwarded to the NSW Director of Public Prosecutions who opted to charge Gray, an off-shore oil rig worker based in Perth.

Gray said the word "guilty" when the charge was read before Judge Solomon and made no further comment.

Gray made a forlorn bid to revive Wood when he realised his friend - who was in Sydney to act as best man at the wedding of New Zealander Mark Nees - was unconscious.

Wood died about four hours after the pair had taken a taxi to Kings Cross with the intention of purchasing a quantity of the drug and experiencing it for the first time.

During the inquest into Wood's death, Kirsten, in a letter to Jerram, said she and her husband's family did not want anyone held responsible.

"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," she wrote.

The Woods had been living in London and the wedding followed a trip home to spend Christmas with family and friends.

"His death came as a huge shock to all his friends and family, and [it] has been a significant loss to me," she wrote.

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"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 described Kirsten's letter as thoughtful and noting Gray, who attended the inquest but did not give evidence, had been "crushed" by the tragedy - but she still chose to refer the matter to the DPP.

After an all-night pub crawl the childhood friends returned to their central city hotel about 5am.

Once inside Wood decided he wanted to try heroin and convinced Gray to accompany him to Kings Cross an hour later.

In an extract from a police statement read to the NSW Coroner's Court, 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."

Wood paid AUD$100 (NZ$123) for a purple water balloon containing what they thought was a small amount of heroin.

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.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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