An irate young Northlander who followed and punched a grandfather during a road rage incident has been sentenced to home detention and community work.
Patrick Dennis Tarawa, 22, appeared for sentencing in the High Court at Whangārei this morning after earlier pleading guilty to one charge of manslaughter.
The charge carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
He twice punched 58-year-old Christopher Vujcich after the latter's van cut across an intersection in Kaikohe, causing Tarawa to apply the brakes to avoid a collision.
Tarawa's pregnant partner Tui Rihari was in the car with him at the Purdy St/Broadway intersection in central Kaikohe about 9.30pm on January 19 this year.
He then followed Vujcich to Kowhai St where Tarawa punched him after an argument.
The second punch connected with his head, causing him to fall backwards, land on a concrete footpath, and fall unconscious.
He could be heard snoring and was taken to the Bay of Islands Hospital in Kawakawa in a life threatening condition and died about 12pm the next day.
A post mortem found he died from blunt force head injury, including bleeding to the base of the brain stem and large fractures to the skull.
Those injuries were unsurvivable.
At sentencing this morning, Vujcich's sons Matthew who was with him in the van that fateful night and, Anthony, brother David and a sister read tearful victim impact statements.
They spoke about the grief and hurt his death has caused the entire family, including Vijcich's elderly mother whose health deteriorated and who has since passed away.
After they had finished speaking, Tarawa's Auckland-based aunt Evelyn Rihari also addressed the court and said her nephew made the wrong decision to follow Vujcich's vehicle that night but has learnt a "big lesson".
Justice Kit Toogood sentenced Tarawa to 10 months home detention and 400 hours community work.