NSW one-punch killer over tobacco jailed

·3-min read

A man whose one-punch killed his friend in Newcastle following a fight over a tobacco pouch has been jailed for at least four years and three months.

Shane Holmes was sentenced for manslaughter after hitting Chad Hadden on January 14, 2018, after the pair had been thrown out of Newcastle's Queens Wharf hotel.

The now 47-year-old told police "I lost my shit, I just went boom, hooked him once, he hit the deck". Justice Stephen Campbell described this moment as "a brain snap" during sentencing in Newcastle's Supreme Court on Friday.

The teenage friends had lost contact for 20 years before reconnecting via Facebook in 2017, and had spent the weekend listening to music and watching Netflix.

The duo arrived at the hotel about 2pm on Sunday and drank four buckets of Corona beer and had consumed about nine drinks each.

They were affected by alcohol, but not considered drunk when Mr Hadden accused Holmes of stealing his pouch of tobacco, which had repeatedly blown off their table that afternoon.

The men were ejected separately following the scuffle but eventually ended up on the same street.

"If the purpose of the measure to release both men separately in different directions, was the avoidance of further trouble, it did not have its desired effect," Justice Campbell said.

The then-43-year-old told police he heard Mr Hadden yelling from across the road before walking over and waving his finger saying "if you ever do that again I'll friggen kill you".

The judge dismissed his evidence that he was attacked twice before he delivered the fatal punch, but accepted Mr Hadden was in an "aggressive and threatening mood".

Witnesses heard a loud crack or thud, the force of his head hitting the pavement causing the fatal brain injury.

After five months spent in a medically induced coma, he died following complications from surgery in June 2018.

Justice Campbell believed a witness who refuted Holmes' claims that he gave him a few slaps while lying on the ground, saying she saw him deliver the blows with closed fists while he lay defenceless on the ground.

Soon after he walked away.

The Crown submitted it was a serious episode of alcohol-fuelled violence in a public space for seven reasons including the punch to the head was delivered with force, suddenly and without warning.

The fact it was Mr Hadden who first attacked Holmes in the hotel, and further initiated a confrontation, was taken into account.

The judge accepted he did not turn his mind to the possible consequences of his action at all.

Holmes' mother told the court her son cried following his friend's death and said: "I'll have to live with this for the rest of my life. Chad was my friend mum, he will always be my friend ... I will never get over this".

Justice Campbell accepted his sincere remorse but found his denial of other facts problematic.

"He has wrongheadedly persuaded himself he acted in self-defence rather than a loss of control."

Holmes is considered of good character with excellent prospects of rehabilitation.

Following a discount of 25 per cent for his guilty plea he was sentenced to a maximum term of five years and nine months.

He will first be eligible for parole on June 4, 2023.

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