“streetkid” jailed for death of Ngai Tahu man

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A middle-aged streetkid and long-time drug user has been jailed for three years, three months for the manslaughter of a man he punched and killed in a Christchurch street.

Justice Lester Chisholm described Anthony Trevor Grafton’s offence as random street violence by a man who had lived on the streets for 25 years and amassed 180 previous convictions.

He imposed the sentence at the Christchurch High Court sentencing in the Ashburton courthouse today.

The 41-year-old drifter had pleaded guilty last month, just before the scheduled start of a trial in the Dunedin High Court, to a charge of manslaughter of Te-Aritaua Gerrard Brennan, 52, who was punched in the head in an encounter in the street in Edgeware in November 2010.

Brennan fell backwards and hit his head on the pavement. He was put in an induced coma in hospital with his family keeping vigil but did not regain consciousness and died 11 days after the attack.

Brennan was the son of Hori Brennan who was active in Ngai Tahu and built the Nga Hau e Wha Marae on Pages Rd, and his sister is the opera singer Timua Brennan.

Defence counsel Serina Bailey said Grafton was “one of life’s true transients” who had faced extreme difficulties since his early life.

Alcohol and drugs were his entrenched way of life from an early age. She alleged Brennan had crossed the road and abused Grafton when he was rummaging in a rubbish bin.

But the Crown rejected that and said Grafton had a history of random assaults when he was affected by drugs or alcohol.

Prosecutor Phil Shamy rejected any suggestion that Brennan had brought the attack on himself.

“It was a random act of violence against an unknown person on the street.”

Brennan’s brother David’s victim impact statement was read in court.

He told Grafton that when he is released from prison he must change his life to ensure that he never “does this to another family”.

He said the offence arose from Grafton’s “meaningless and non-productive life”.

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