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Man sentenced for killing brother with axe

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 4/05/2016

Sobs and cries of "We love you" filled the High Court at Rotorua as a Kawerau man was sentenced for killing his brother with an axe.

The public gallery was packed with family members as Justice Graham Lang jailed Cameron Hunt, 26, for five years and a month for the manslaughter of his older brother Barry at Kawerau on July 2 last year.

In what the judge called an eloquent victim impact statement the men's sister, Morrise Hunt begged for `Cam' to be given leniency.

"It is difficult to describe how our lives have been changed by this, how many tears have been shed for both ... we look forward to bringing our brother home so we can grieve together for the loss of another brother," she said.

Ms Hunt said the whanau had asked over and over again how the death could have happened when the two were so tightly-knit.

She told of feeling as if her heart had been ripped out as, after 31-year-old Barry's life support was turned off, she watched a clock on the wall tick his life away.

"We all knew Cam didn't mean to take Barry's life, I blame alcohol which played a big part in this tragedy. At Waikeria [prison] we could see the remorse in his eyes, he said: `I'm sorry sis, I didn't mean to do that to our bro'."

Justice Lang agreed alcohol had played a major part in the `tragic' axe killing.

"I can only hope this draws attention to the fact alcohol and violence do not mix," he said.

He outlined how the brothers had been drinking with a group of others from noon until late into the night Barry Hunt died.

When Cameron Hunt said he wanted to go to bed his brother hadn't wanted him to, they argued, blows were exchanged and when a cousin intervened, Cameron Hunt had grabbed a 2.28kg axe, using it to strike his brother on the side of the head.

"With your brother unconscious on the ground your cousin asked what you'd done, you dropped the axe and burst into tears," he said, adding Cameron Hunt had demonstrated the deepest possible grief when police told him his brother had died.

Defence lawyer, Gene Tomlinson, told the court he'd watched the DVD of the police interview with Cameron and it wasn't until 10 minutes into it that he was told of his brother's death.

"He folded on his chair, toppled over, lying in the foetal position crying not for himself, but the loss of his brother. There can be no more expression of remorse than that."

Crown solicitor Greg Hollister-Jones acknowledged the depth of feeling displayed in the court room, saying it was obvious how tragic the death had been, however a lethal weapon had been used with foreseeable consequences.

Outside the court an emotional Morrise Hunt said she was happy with the sentence and was grateful the whanau had been spared the pain of a trial by her brother pleading guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter.

He'd initially been charged with murder.

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