The family of a young father killed at an Auckland house party last year have been left devastated after the man accused of causing his death was found not guilty.
Reginald Sharma, 25, died at a house party on Haughey Ave in Three Kings in the early hours of August 19 last year.
The Avondale man, described as selfless and cheerful, died on a driveway at the property despite efforts to save him by performing CPR.
Carlos Pula, 23, was charged with manslaughter five days later. He was accused of delivering a single, fatal blow that subsequently led to Sharma's death.
The defence argued Pula was not the assailant, however, telling the jury he could not have thrown the punch because of an injury to his wrist.
Pula was remanded in custody until the trial began at the end of July. The trial took place over three weeks until the jury of six men and six women returned the verdict of not guilty on Tuesday.
The decision came just five days before the one year anniversary of Sharma's death.
The victim's brother, Alfred Sharma, spoke with the Herald and said he was struggling to accept the jury's decision.
"We are really devastated. The loss of my brother is one thing, but not having answers is just another thing that we have to live with right now," he said.
"It is hard to accept that justice was not served for an innocent man."
The loss of my brother is one thing, but not having answers is just another thing that we have to live with.
Alfred Sharma said he did not blame the jury for their decision, but he felt the family deserved answers.
"When it came down to it, it was a matter of identity and whether it was him that did it or someone else.
"But how do we move on from here when we have nothing?" he said.
"If this person didn't do it, then who did it? And, if this person is out there in the public and we don't know, what are the chances of me bumping into this person?
"No answers doesn't bring anyone peace."
Alfred Sharma said the result was heartbreaking, and the family were lost for what to do now.
"It is almost like there is no hope left for us to hold on to, but I believe in karma and I believe I want to continue fighting for justice," he said.
"We will be in touch with the lawyer and the legal team to discuss further options because we are definitely not settling.
"What else can we do other than continue to have hope and be strong for each other."
I believe in karma and I believe I want to continue fighting for justice.
Alfred Sharma said the family would be gathering this Sunday for the one year anniversary of his brother's death.
"It is going to be tough this Sunday, but we will come together as a family and do our best to remember the good times that we shared with our brother and son," he said.
Reginald Sharma also had a younger sister who lives in California with their mother, while his brother and father are based in Auckland.
Before his death, he was in a relationship and the couple were expecting a child together.
The child, named Reginald Junior, was born two months after his death. Sharma also has a six-year-old daughter.
The family remember him as a humble, kind and generous person.
"My brother was a real humble person. He enjoyed socialising and being around his friends.
"He definitely wasn't a troublemaker, he was just an awesome, kind, generous person.
"He cared about others and put others first. He was a man with so much time for others and had a heart of gold," Alfred Sharma said.
"Those are things that I hold on to and remember about him, they are the positive things I try to focus on to get me through.
"But I have to face the challenge of telling his son that his father is no longer here and I have no answers for him."
In her opening statements, Crown prosecutor Fiona Culliney said on the night of August 19, Pula got "really drunk" at a 21st birthday party at a Haughey Ave address.
"After hours of solid drinking, he decided to hit a completely innocent man in the face," she said.
Pula allegedly gave Sharma an upper cut on the left side of his face, causing an artery to split at the back of his head, resulting in a brain bleed and his death.
The Crown argued Sharma had been "minding his own business" and didn't provoke him in any way prior to the attack.
Culliney said Sharma was "an absolutely innocent bystander" and alleged that the accused had taken out his anger on him for no reason whatsoever after being involved in a fight just minutes earlier at the property.
The Crown said two people were at the party who witnessed the blow, one of whom was sober.
Pula's defence lawyer, Mark Edgar, told the jury the events of the night started at the Gemini bar in Otahuhu and ended up at Haughey Ave, involving a number of people drinking.
The defence's case was that Pula simply wasn't the assailant, and that it had been someone else.
Edgar boiled down the defence case to two main issues. The first being the credibility and reliability of the witnesses set to be called.
The second point was focused on medical evidence, arguing that Pula could not have thrown the punch because of an injury to his wrist.
"Pula cannot make a fist, despite what the Crown might say," Edgar said.