Auckland man pleads guilty over balcony death

By Edward Gay

The 3.9m drop that killed Stewart Kingi. Photo / Moana Tapaleao
The 3.9m drop that killed Stewart Kingi. Photo / Moana Tapaleao

An Auckland man has pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of a mate who clung to a balcony railing before his fingers were prised and he fell to his death.

In the High Court at Auckland today, Barry Harwood, 66, pleaded guilty to the manslaughter and assault of Stewart Kingi at a Glen Innes apartment on March 10, 2010.

The court was told Harwood and Kingi, along with two other friends, had been drinking all day at the apartment when the death happened.

According to the police summary of facts, Kingi and Harwood had been drinking since before 10am. Eight hours later they were both drunk when Kingi passed out on the floor and wet himself.

The police say it was then that Harwood became "enraged". He swore at Kingi and punched him on the ground.

Kingi was taken outside on to the balcony, 3.9m above the ground.

Police said Harwood forced Kingi over the rail but Kingi clung on.

"As Kingi tried to swing one leg up to the balcony, in an attempt to pull himself back up the defendant prised at Kingi's fingers, forcibly causing him to release his grip from the handrail," the police summary of facts said.

Kingi fell headfirst on to the concrete below.

A neighbour who witnessed the fall called an ambulance while Harwood went back inside the apartment.

Kingi suffered a fractured skull and brain injuries. He died the next day in Auckland Hospital.

At court today, Justice Timothy Brewer released Harwood on bail until sentencing next month.

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