Killer pushes for bar clos­ing

Central Leader - - OUT & ABOUT - KELLY DENNETT

Po­lice have re­cruited a for­mer Navy sailor who killed a stranger with a punch to the head to tes­tify of the dan­gers of late night bars.

Grenville McFar­land, 30, was jailed for the man­slaugh­ter of Tarun Asthana, who he killed with a blow to the head in Novem­ber 2013.

Po­lice ap­proached McFar­land to give ev­i­dence to the Al­co­hol Reg­u­la­tory and Li­cens­ing Author­ity that bars should close ear­lier to pre­vent sim­i­lar tragedies.

He par­tially blamed Asthana’s death on late night open­ing hours, and said he had suf­fered the loss of his naval ca­reer, ex­pe­ri­ence fi­nan­cial hard­ship, ‘‘as well as emo­tional scar­ring, guilt, de­pres­sion and anx­i­ety all as a re­sult of my ac­tions’’.

But Asthana’s mother Yvette said McFar­land should take re­spon­si­bil­ity for his ac­tions rather than blame late night open­ing hours.

Tarun’s friend Ed­die Lo, who works in the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try, said clos­ing times were ir­rel­e­vant in Tarun’s death.

McFar­land, then a Navy com­bat sys­tems spe­cial­ist, took ex­cep­tion to a com­ment Asthana made to a wo­man. Asthana fell back­wards and hit his head on the pave­ment. He was ad­mit­ted to hos­pi­tal with crit­i­cal head in­juries, but died two days later.

Both men had been out drink­ing in the lead up to the fa­tal en­counter out­side the Queen St McDon­alds at 5am.

McFar­land’s sub­mis­sion to the Al­co­hol Reg­u­la­tory and Li­cens­ing Author­ity comes as po­lice ask Auck­land Coun­cil to in­tro­duce ear­lier lock-outs and clos­ing times for bars and night­clubs, which cur­rently have to close by 4am.

Un­der the Sale and Sup­ply of Al­co­hol Act 2012, lo­cal author­i­ties are al­lowed to set their own clos­ing times for bars and off-li­cences. Po­lice and coun­cils have been wag­ing le­gal bat­tles around the coun­try for ear­lier clos­ing times.

McFar­land de­clined to be in­ter­viewed, how­ever in his ev­i­dence he said if the bars hadn’t closed so late on the night he punched Asthana, the young man could still be alive.

‘‘My sin­gle act in re­tal­i­a­tion and my de­ci­sion mak­ing on the night was af­fected by al­co­hol which has im­pacted heav­ily on my life and clearly on the life of my vic­tim and his fam­ily,’’ McFar­land’s ev­i­dence said.

McFar­land was re­leased last Septem­ber af­ter be­ing sen­tenced to two years and four months in prison.

PETER MEECHAM/FAIR­FAX NZ

Grenville McFar­land stands in the dock at the Auck­land High Court while be­ing sen­tenced on a charge of man­slaugh­ter.

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