Homeless man Darrell Edward James Dunn has been jailed for seven years and six months after being found guilty of the manslaughter of his friend and fellow rough sleeper, Teina Wharawhara.
At sentencing at the Auckland High Court this morning, Wharawhara's brother, Teddy, said it was inconceivable his brother died at the hands of someone who was bonded to him through their shared lives on the streets.
They did not approve of Wharawhara's lifestyle and had attempted many times to rehabilitate him on the marae.
He was no angel, but it was the life he chose, the man told the court.
"Teina chose an existence which ultimately claimed his life."
The whanau told the court they would endeavour to find forgiveness in their hearts, then addressed Dunn in the dock directly and told him he had the opportunity to participate in programmes while incarcerated.
After a week-long trial last month and seven hours of deliberations, a jury found Dunn, 48, guilty of the manslaughter of Wharawhara, 42.
Dunn and Wharawhara were drinking heavily in Outhwaite Park, Grafton, on November 10 last year when they began arguing over the dead man's phone.
Wharawhara was worried about the battery because they were using it to play music and Dunn told him to "stop moaning". The pair also argued over a vodka bottle.
Dunn then hit Wharawhara, causing him to fall backwards off the park seat, then kicked him around the head, which he denied doing despite the deceased's blood being found on his jean cuff.
He also said he acted in self defence after Wharawhara stabbed his hand.
The Crown did not agree and presented evidence from an expert witness that the wounds on his right palm were inconsistent with those of self defence.
Today, prosecution lawyer Philip Arnold said self defence was "clearly rejected by the jury" and no other witness could confirm Wharawhara had a knife. None was found.
He said Dunn also had an extensive criminal history with more than 158 convictions dating back to 1987, including common assault, male assaults female, assaulting police and threatening to kill.
And when he committed manslaughter, Dunn was on parole, which was an aggravating factor, Arnold told the court.
Dunn's lawyer Peter Kaye said he had shown some level of remorse and is quoted in a report as saying: "I didn't want my bro to die" and "I was in the wrong place with the wrong crowd".
Kaye argued this did not convey the "deepest sense" of remorse, but Dunn hadn't taken a completely callous and cold approach to what happened.
Justice Matthew Palmer said it wasn't murder because there was no intent and didn't consider the violence to be extreme. But the force he used went beyond what was reasonable.
However, Dunn was bigger than Wharawhara and attacked him "while he was drunk and defenceless on the ground".
"You knew Mr Teina Wharawhara - he was 42, an alcoholic, and smaller than you. You were both streeties, members of the homeless community of Auckland."
He did not accept Dunn's expressions of regret amounted to remorse.
However even though Dunn used more force than was reasonable the fact he believed he was acting in self defence was a mitigating factor, Justice Palmer said.
Dunn's extensive criminal history, his clear breach of parole conditions including not offending, drinking or taking drugs and his lifestyle were aggravating factors.
Justice Palmer sentenced Dunn to seven years and six months in prison.