Nigel Landreth would have turned 45 this week.
Instead of arranging a raucous celebration, his sister spent the day sitting silently by his grave, reminiscing about a life cut short.
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It was time, Michelle Landreth decided, to speak about the 14 months of "pure hell" her brother and the family endured before he finally succumbed to his injuries.
Landreth revealed for the first time that she believed there was more to the incident that hospitalised him than simply a chance meeting, as portrayed in court.
Nigel Landreth died following an attack by 26-year-old Mongrel Mob member John-Boy Rakete at a Dunedin petrol station on July 7, 2018.
To the victim's family, he is a killer. But not so in the eyes of the law.
Because Landreth died more than a year and a day from the time of the crime, legislation — which has since been repealed — dictated Rakete could not be charged with murder or manslaughter.
Instead, he admitted a count of causing grievous bodily harm with reckless disregard and was jailed for two years and two months in June last year.
He came up for parole for the second time last month but the board heard that, despite completing a rehabilitative course aimed at addressing his violent tendencies, he was allegedly involved in an assault while at the Otago Corrections Facility.
Rakete was declined early release, but his sentence ends in September.
Michelle Landreth was saddened but not surprised by the continuation of violence behind bars.
"My worry is he will get out and do it to someone else," she said.
She said she had been told the attack on her brother was not random, as it was painted in court documents: a terse exchange on a service-station forecourt followed by a vicious punch.
An estranged family member of the victim, she said, is suspected of having drug debts with the gang and mentioning Nigel Landreth's name.
The police pursued that lead but could not confirm it was a targeted hit, she said.
As Nigel Landreth lay bleeding from his ears in the aftermath of the punch — CCTV footage of which was blocked by a parked truck — Rakete poured a soft drink over him and told others not to help him.
The court, at sentencing, heard the victim was not expected to recover from his vegetative state.
Michelle Landreth said that sparked vitriol from strangers who thought her cruel for keeping her brother alive.
She stressed, however, she was given no options over his treatment and, in any case, he had shown strong signs of recovery.
She fondly remembered a gigantic hug he gave her only weeks before his death.
''The improvements were major and everyone thought he would walk and talk again," she said.
"So, we all had hope every step of the way, including Nigel."
His sharp decline came following an operation to replace a piece of skull.
After spending nearly every waking minute by her brother's side, Michelle Landreth was called to the hospital after his condition plummeted again, only to miss his death by minutes.
"It was heartbreaking," she said.
There was a bitter irony, she said, that his demise came at the hands of a gang member.
The victim spent his childhood taking sustained beatings from a gang-affiliated family member while trying to protect his mother and sister.
Through adulthood, he schooled himself in martial arts, and that protective streak endured.
"He always looked after and looked out for the little guy," Michelle Landreth said. "He couldn't stand people being bullied or picked on or using scare tactics."
She still feared gang retribution for speaking out, but told the Otago Daily Times it was time she told her story.
And if Rakete wanted to meet?
"It's gone too far for that. I wouldn't be able to sit there and look at the person who did that to my brother," she said.
"There is no forgiveness."