A Queensland road-rage killer’s jail sentence should be reduced because his victim’s death after a single punch was not foreseeable, his lawyer says.
Tamate Henry Heke was sentenced to six-and-a-half years’ jail for punching Shane Merrigan, which caused him to fall into the path of a 13.7-tonne rubbish truck on the Gateway Motorway in 2015.
In February, Heke became the first person in Queensland acquitted of manslaughter but convicted of unlawful striking causing death under the state’s recently introduced one-punch laws.
The factory worker’s trial heard he had been driving home from a 12-hour shift when he was tailgated and challenged to pull over at Eight Mile Plains by Mr Merrigan.
He told police Mr Merrigan came at him, pushed and punched him, before he retaliated.
Heke also told investigators he tried to grab him as he fell and he “didn’t mean it”.
His defence barrister John Allen QC argued in the Court of Appeal on Tuesday that Heke’s sentence was excessive and should instead have been around the five-year mark.
Heke’s case differed from that of Armstrong Renata, who was given an seven-year sentence for the single-punch death of teenager Cole Miller in 2016, Mr Allen said.
Mr Miller was struck from behind by Renata while on a night out in the Fortitude Valley nightclub district.
“In a [unlawful striking causing death] case, it would be less serious if the death was neither foreseen nor reasonably foreseeable, as opposed to a case where the death was foreseeable,” Mr Allen said.
“In this case, that feature is available and I can say that because of the manslaughter acquittal.”
Mr Allen also questioned if the one-punch laws were designed to target incidents where parties agreed to enter into a fight.
“Far from being drunk or out looking for trouble, he was most likely fatigued after a punishing working schedule,” Mr Allen said.
“Both he and the victim chose to confront each other at the side of the highway. The victim was at least verbally aggressive in the confrontation.”
The Court of Appeal has reserved its decision.