Killer pushes for bar closing
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.
Grenville McFarland stands in the dock at the Auckland High Court while being sentenced on a charge of manslaughter.