Tamate Heke is appealing his one-punch sentence following a fatal roadside confrontation.A New Zealander acquitted of manslaughter but convicted of Queensland’s new one-punch offence is appealing his sentence.
Tamate Heke was sentenced to six-and-a-half years’ jail in February for the unlawful striking causing death of Shane Merrigan in 2015.
The 38-year-old punched Mr Merrigan in the head during a roadside altercation on the Gateway Motorway on December 1, causing him to fall into the path of a 13.7-tonne rubbish truck.
It was a landmark case in that there was no precedent for someone convicted of the one-punch offence after being cleared of manslaughter.
In the Queensland Court of Appeal on Friday, Justice Walter Sofronoff said Heke’s appeal was centred around that point.
“At the heart of the application for leave to appeal against sentence is what’s said to be an anomaly that you get less for manslaughter than you get for the other one,” he said.
“If that’s right I wonder … whether the charges should’ve been laid the other way around.”
Justice Sofronoff said there was the possibility questions could also be raised about the “correctness of the conviction”.
In sentencing Heke, Justice Peter Applegarth questioned why unlawful striking causing death hadn’t been listed as the primary offence when it required offenders to serve 80 per cent of their sentence behind bars.
“From Mr Heke’s point of view, it’s hard not to see unlawful striking causing death as the more serious count because of the consequences,” he said.
“In retrospect he might have wished that the jury had found him guilty of manslaughter.”
As a result of his conviction under the new law, Heke will not be eligible for parole until he’s served about five years and one month behind bars.
He will then be deported to New Zealand upon his release.
A date for Heke’s appeal to be heard is yet to be set.
Australian Associated Press