Teen sentenced over nightclub manslaughter
A TEENAGER who punched a university academic, who later died, in an unprovoked attack at a Hobart nightclub has been sentenced for manslaughter.
Beau Wayne Kelly, 19, had pleaded guilty to one count of manslaughter.
He was sentenced in the Supreme Court in Hobart on Thursday by Justice Michael Brett.
His victim, Stewart Williams, 54, was a highly regarded scholar at the University of Tasmania as a senior lecturer at the School of Land and Food in the College of Sciences and Engineering.
The court heard about 4.45am on February 24, 2019, the two men's paths crossed on a staircase in the entrance area of nightclub Mobius Lounge Bar.
After a brief verbal altercation, Kelly followed Dr Williams back into the club and punched him once in the face.
The court heard the punch caused multiple facial fractures and Dr Williams was placed in intensive care, but his condition continued to decline.
He went into cardiac arrest and was on life support for six days until his family made the decision to remove that support and Dr Williams died soon after.
"There was no reason for you to punch this man," Justice Brett said.
"The only conclusion that I can reach is that your conduct resulted from drunken bravado."
Justice Brett said he accepted Kelly did not consciously think about the potential consequences of his actions before the punch, but it was an unlawful assault and he was responsible for the consequences.
"Punching another person in the head with force is a notoriously dangerous act. Doing so when under the influence of alcohol adds to the danger," he said.
"While you cannot be sentenced on the basis that you ought to have known that such an act was likely to cause death, because that would amount to murder, I consider that you do bear a high level of moral culpability for such conduct and its consequence."
A victim impact statement from Dr Williams' former partner spoke of his three children's devastation.
"You have not only caused the death of this man, but you have also permanently and irrevocably affected the lives of his family," Justice Brett said.
Kelly, an apprentice carpenter, had no prior convictions and Justice Brett said he did not think there was a significant risk he would commit a similar crime again.
"However, the sentence in this case must reinforce the sanctity of human life," Justice Brett said.
"It is well known that mindless violence inflicted by drunken offenders on others late at night and in public far too often results in serious injury or death. Those who would perpetrate such violence must realise that they will incur appropriate punishment."
Kelly was sentenced to five years in prison and will not be eligible for parole until serving half of the sentence.
Originally published as Teen sentenced over nightclub manslaughter