Grenville David McFarland and Tarun Asthana. Photos / Dean
The mother of trainee teacher Tarun Asthana would often
worry her son would get into trouble on a night out, and last
year her worst fears came true when he was killed by a single
In the High Court at Auckland today, former Navy sailor
Grenville David McFarland was jailed for two years and four
months after earlier pleading guilty to the manslaughter of
25-year-old Mr Asthana.
He suffered a fatal head injury after he was punched by
McFarland and struck his head on the pavement outside a
central Auckland McDonald's in the early hours of November 2
McFarland, 27, had just witnessed Mr Asthana have an
altercation with a woman.In a victim impact statement read to
the court today, Mr Asthana's mother Yvette Asthana said her
son's "sheer cheekiness" got him in trouble.
"I'm sure that Grenville never thought that his blow would
have killed my Tarun.
"I hope that in time he would have realised there was a
better way of dealing with the situation rather than having
to use his fist."
The Asthanas came to New Zealand eight years ago and Mr
Asthana developed a love of the outdoors and an affinity with
His mother said he also loved fast cars and was intelligent
"Unfortunately Tarun came under peer pressure and got pulled
into the drinking culture of this country. As a mother I was
always wary of what could happen, but he insisted that he was
always safe," Mrs Asthana said.
"I tried to make him realise that because of our colour and
who we are we always had to careful of how we conducted
Mrs Asthana, whose religious faith had helped her cope with
losing her son, said she knew he was now in a better place
and at peace.
The court was told she had accepted an apology from McFarland
and the two parties has undergone restorative justice.
Defence lawyer Ron Mansfield argued for his client to avoid
jail. He said McFarland was remorseful and not at risk of
McFarland had walked away from Mr Asthana after he hit him,
but didn't realise how bad the "unintended tragedy" was and
did not mean to cause such harm.
When he found out how seriously Mr Asthana was hurt he
immediately reported to the Navy, which he had since resigned
from, and police.
McFarland was now using his experience to educate others not
to use violence in similar circumstances, Mr Mansfield said.
But while she accepted his remorse and other positive
factors, Justice Pamela Andrews said only a jail sentence was
McFarland, who was on weekend leave, headed to McDonald's
near Britomart about 5am after a night out.Inside the
restaurant, Mr Asthana picked up a straw from the counter and
blew a piece of paper at a woman who was with McFarland.
"You're just standing there looking good, if it was anyone
else I would not have done it," Mr Asthana told her.
Outside, he smacked the woman hard on the bottom. She swore
at him and told him not to touch her.
McFarland, who was standing at a nearby bus stop eating,
heard the altercation and was upset by it.
He placed his food on the ground and walked towards Mr
Asthana and saying, "you're being a ******* ****", and
punched him once on the left side of his face.
Mr Asthana struck his head heavily on the ground and was
McFarland left the scene without helping him.Mr Asthana was
placed on life support at Auckland Hospital, which was turned
off three days later.
- Jimmy Ellingham