Killer's sentence appeal turned down

Jason Blackler failed to convince the Court of Appeal his sentence of seven years was manifestly excessive. Photo: George Block
Jason Blackler failed to convince the Court of Appeal his sentence of seven years was manifestly excessive. Photo: George Block
A Dunedin man who beat his friend then left him for dead has had an appeal against sentence rejected.

Jason Karl Blackler (49) was jailed for seven years before the High Court at Dunedin last year after being found guilty by a jury of the manslaughter of 66-year-old Alan James Fahey.

Justice Helen Dunningham also imposed a minimum non-parole period of three and a-half years.

Both aspects of the sentence were challenged by defence counsel James Rapley QC when the matter came before the Court of Appeal in Dunedin last month, but the bid for a reduced sentence was unsuccessful.

Blackler was drinking with Mr Fahey at the victim's Brockville home on October 25, 2016 when the attack occurred.

Mr Fahey suffered a fractured bone in his neck, a split lip from his mouth to his nose, a broken nose, a torn eyelid, as well as extensive bruising on the inner of both eye sockets, cheeks and throat.

''The injuries were such that his face was said to be almost unrecognisable,'' Justice Christine French said in the recently released judgement.

After the incident, Blackler tried to clean the blood off himself then rang his partner to say he thought he may have killed his best friend.

He suggested burning down the house to cover his tracks then took a taxi to the woman's house.

Mr Rapley said the final sentence was manifestly excessive.

He challenged Justice Dunningham's finding that at least one of the blows to Mr Fahey had been inflicted while he was on the floor.

The judge, Mr Rapley said, had to be satisfied the evidence supported that view beyond reasonable doubt.

He submitted it came nowhere near reaching that threshold but the Court of Appeal disagreed.

Mr Rapley also argued the sentencing judge overstated the seriousness of Blackler's offending.

But Justice French said it was important to take into account the man's ''callous conduct'' after the beating.

''Mr Blackler fully appreciated after the attack that death was a distinct possibility. He also knew there was no-one else in the house who would be able to assist Mr Fahey. Mr Blackler could not be certain that Mr Fahey was already beyond assistance,'' she said.

Mr Rapley's suggested Blackler's previous convictions - which numbered more than 150 - should not have resulted in an increase to his sentence because they did not significantly feature serious violence.

Again, the point was rejected.

Justice French pointed to various incidents since 2006, including one where Blackler stabbed a dog with hedge clippers.

''In our view, not only does the steady number of violent interactions demonstrate that Mr Blackler's offending has persisted long into his adult years but it also, as the Crown submits, indicates a concerning behavioural pattern which escalated in the sustained attack on Mr Fahey,'' she said.

Blackler will have his first parole hearing in April next year.