The heartbroken family of 77-year-old Ōpōtiki man Brian Albert Hilton, who died after a brutal beating, say they have a lifetime of healing ahead of them and may never find closure.
His daughter Celeste victim impact statement also prepared on behalf of her brother Lance and sister Anmea was read by Crown prosecutor Richard Jenson in the High Court at Rotorua yesterday during his attacker's sentencing hearing.
Harry Clement Matchitt, 54, from Ōpōtiki was found guilty of the Hilton's manslaughter by a jury in the High Court at Tauranga in July. He was acquitted of murder.
The court heard Matchitt brutally beat Hilton, who was just 49kg, and left him critically injured on the lounge floor of the elderly man's Ōpōtiki home on July 7, 2016.
Hilton was found unconscious the next day and died in Tauranga Hospital five days later.
Celeste said their father lived alone but had regular visitors and people who cared about him, including his family.
"Our relationship in the past was somewhat tumultuous as our father was an eccentric member of society and he also struggled with mental health issues. But he was still our father and we cared deeply about him.
"We made several attempts to reconnect with him and hoped that one day we could have an adult relationship. It was something always at the front of our minds."
She said their father's violent premature death at Matchitt's hands had left them with "very heavy hearts", and they still struggled to come to terms with him being taken too soon.
"Harry Matchitt your blatant disregard for our father's wellbeing was so shocking to us, that we're still working through the trauma of his extremely violent death.
"There will be a lifetime of healing for us because of your careless and thoughtless actions, and a lack of closure because you took away our ability to have an adult relationship with our father in the last years of his life."
Justice Kit Toogood told Matchitt it was "extremely fortunate" he was not convicted of murder after he had "callously" left Hilton for dead.
"You were a guest in Mr Hilton's home and had a few drinks together and then for reasons which are not clear you beat him violently around the head," he said.
"You struck Mr Hilton several times with such force as to cause fractures to his facial bones, both eye sockets, his nose and an injury behind his right ear.
"The injuries were so severe that parts of his face, jaw and nose were no longer connected to his skull ... The force used was the kind seen in high-trauma incidents such as motor vehicle accidents," he said.
Justice Toogood also said there was no evidence at Matchitt's trial the attack had been provoked by Hilton.
The Crown's case was a "drunken and angry" Matchitt inflicted blows to Hilton's head, face, neck and chest. His DNA was found at Hilton's house on one of the beer bottles.
The defence argued it was not Matchitt seen on security camera footage entering Hilton's home on the evening of July 7 and leaving about an hour later.
Matchitt told the jury he visited his "good friend" Brian Hilton earlier that day and had a drink with him, but insisted they never argued or got into a physical altercation.
His lawyer, Roger Gowing, argued at trial Hilton's assault was more likely a "burglary gone wrong" committed by another man known to have conflicts with Hilton.
Justice Toogood sentenced Matchitt to seven years and nine months' prison and imposed a minimum non-parole period of three years and nine months.
Justice Toogood said he had taken into account Matchitt's 177 prior convictions, many for drink driving, and violent offences, and he already served 64 sentences of imprisonment.
"There is no doubt that the combination of your addiction to alcohol and violent temper has led you to use your fists far too often."
Matchitt was a long-term user of cannabis and had used other drugs.
Justice Toogood said he also took into account Matchitt's deprived upbringing, during which he was subjected to sustained periods of physical abuse and mistreatment.
The long-term impacts of head injuries Matchitt suffered as a result of assaults and a motor vehicle accident had not been fully assessed, he said.
While Matchitt denied his offending and had shown no remorse, he expressed a wish to make changes to become a better person and "an example to younger people", the judge said.