Guilty pleas to manslaughter over burns death

High Court-panoply1Two Christchurch men have admitted manslaughter charges over the death of a man who was burned in an incident in April last year and died about two weeks later in Middlemore Hospital, Auckland.

Jason Alistor Barr, 44, and Shay Barry Webster, 22, pleaded guilty to the reduced charges in the High Court at Christchurch today, a month ahead of their scheduled murder trial.

They admitted the manslaughter of 55-year-old Terrance Martin Smith who received petrol burns over 30 percent of his body in the Anzac Day 2013 incident at a gathering at a house in Woolston.

He was flown to Middlemore a few days later, while Barr and Webster were held in custody. They were charged with murder after his death in May.

The pair have been held in custody.

Today, they admitted charges that between April 25 and May 8, 2013, they killed Mr Smith by an unlawful act and thereby committed manslaughter. The dates are the dates of the original incident and Mr Smith’s death.

Justice Rachel Dunningham further remanded them in custody for pre-sentence reports and sentence on December 4 but did not enter convictions at the request of the defence so that the men can continue their courses and counselling in prison.

The judge deferred hearing of the summary of facts and delayed the first strike warnings they will receive. Suppressions relating to the details of the incident still apply.

Counsel for Barr, Kirsten Gray, said her client wished to attend a restorative justice conference with the victim’s family if they were willing. Crown prosecutor Mark Zarifeh said members of the family were present at court and he had raised the matter with them.

“They are going to think about it,” he said.

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