A man due to stand trial this week for murdering a low-level North Canterbury drug dealer during a robbery gone wrong has this morning pleaded guilty to manslaughter.
Shaun Murray Robert Innes, 39, was found guilty by a High Court jury in Christchurch of murdering 51-year-old Rangiora man Tony John Lochhead on September 13, 2014.
His co-accused, Jason William Baker, 40, was also found guilty and jailed for life with a minimum non-parole period of 17 years for his role in using a hunting knife to fatally stab Mr Lochhead and wound his brother, Peter Graham Lochhead, 54.
Innes was sentenced in the High Court at Christchurch to ten years in jail, with no non-parole period, given that his role on the fateful night, was to simply knock on the Lochhead's door and lure them outside, before he ran away.
He appealed the conviction and sentence and was due to face a two-week retrial beginning today.
However, as a jury selection panel gathered in the High Court at Christchurch this morning, Innes pleaded guilty to the reduced charge of manslaughter.
The charge of murder, and one of aggravated wounding, were dropped.
Justice Cameron Mander convicted Innes of manslaughter and remanded him on continued electronically-monitored bail to be sentenced on June 3.
Jonathan Eaton QC said it was an "unusual case, factually" and noted that Innes had already served "quite a significant term" in jail.
The 2014 trial heard that the pair had arrived at the Lochhead's White St flat in Rangiora with the plan of robbing them of drugs, guns and cash.
But while Baker, from Christchurch, attacked them, Innes ran off.
And the brothers fought back in self-defence.
Baker cut Tony on his chest, arms, face, neck, ear and lower arm with a hunting knife.
"He got me, he got me f****** good", he said, before collapsing to the floor, with blood coming out of his throat. Peter received non-fatal cut injuries.
Innes and Baker were arrested in the following days.
At sentencing, Justice Rachel Dunningham accepted Innes had played a lesser role.
"I'm satisfied that you, Innes, were not present when the fatal stab wound occurred," she said.
The jury was clearly of the view that you went went there with a common intention to rob the Lochheads and that you had played your part in enticing them out of the flat."
Crown prosecutor Pip Currie earlier said the suffering and effects of the "robbery gone wrong, [that] turned into a murder" will be long-standing for the family.