A son who "snapped" and bashed his elderly mother with a frying pan has today been jailed for more than five years.

Peter Parekh "lost it" during a heated argument with his mum over where his father's ashes had been scattered.

The 55-year-old Indian-born Christchurch man had a dysfunctional childhood and a "difficult relationship" with his 74-year-old mother, a court heard this afternoon.

At around 9am on May 10 last year, they were arguing in the lounge of their Phillipstown home when his mother told him to leave.

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Parekh snapped. He grabbed a saucepan from the kitchen and returned to strike his mother on the head, causing her to fall to floor, the High Court in Christchurch heard.

He then got a frying pan and hit her three to four times on head while she was lying on the floor.

Worried about the blood, Parekh got a pillow and held it to her head before phoning emergency services.

The victim was hospitalised with cuts and bruises to her head and shoulders.

Parekh later told police that his mother had kept going at him when he lost control and wanted to kill her.

He was originally charged with attempted murder but pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

At the start of his sentencing today, he told Justice Rachel Dunningham: "I'm extremely sorry for my actions. And I wish I could've made a better decision at the time. But unfortunately for the state of mind I was in at the time, I wasn't able to do so."

His "remorse, regret and shame is very real", defence counsel Ruth Buddicom said.

He couldn't bare to look at photos of the harm he caused his mother, who is now living in the UK, the court heard.

Crown prosecutor Courtney Martyn accepted that Parekh had "snapped".

A pre-sentence report noted that Parekh had experienced a dysfunctional childhood and had a difficult relationship with who he felt was a "controlling mother".

Justice Dunningham sentenced him to five years, three months imprisonment and gave him a first strike warning.