Unity Park death: Dealer who mowed down Dunedin man jailed

A drug-dealer who fatally mowed down a Dunedin man over a $350 debt has been jailed for four years one month.

Lance Colin Robert Moore, 36, appeared before the High Court at Dunedin this afternoon after pleading guilty to the manslaughter – once a murder charge was dropped - of 28-year-old Sean Buis.

Justice Jonathan Eaton said it was "extraordinary" that a life could be taken for such a sum.

Lance Colin Robert Moore appeared in the High Court at Dunedin this afternoon, more than a year...
Lance Colin Robert Moore appeared in the High Court at Dunedin this afternoon, more than a year after the Unity Park incident for sentence. PHOTO: Gregor Richardson
"It is a graphic and tragic reminder of the danger of methamphetamine," he said.

The victim's brother took aim at the man in the dock.

"One of the things that stands out to me is the cowardice of this man, leaving Sean for dead. [It's] The worst thing you can do as a human . . . with a complete lack of guilt," he said.

He was also critical of Moore's attitude in a recent restorative justice conference.

"I got no benefit from it. I believe Lance Moore lied his way through [it] solely to get benefit of good sentence," the brother said.

"This man will do his time and move on but this is something I have to live with this for the rest of my life."

The court heard Moore had supplied methamphetamine to Teryn Uren on the understanding she would later pay him $350.

She planned to share some of the haul with Mr Buis and sell the rest to settle her debt with the defendant.

However, the bond between them broke down when Ms Uren claimed he took more than they had agreed.

On July 21 last year, she got in touch with others in the drug community and found people willing to help.

Christopher Gibbs, who knew Mr Buis, set up a time to meet him at Unity Park and the snare was set.

Ms Uren went to Braden Ward’s house and they called the victim, threatening violence and demanding cash.

Mr Ward enlisted the help of Joshua Allen – an Australian deportee who had violence convictions both here and overseas – and informed him of Mr Buis’ expected movements.

Finally, Ms Uren told Moore of the plan and he headed to Mornington in a borrowed red Ford Falcon.

He arrived at Unity Park to see Mr Buis being chased across the field by Mr Allen towards Eglinton Rd and he pulled a u-turn to intercept the victim.

The defendant heard gunshots, which came from the victim's high-powered BB gun.

As he emerged on to the street, Moore drove directly at him.

But before the collision occurred, Mr Buis tripped on the uneven surface and was dragged more than 4m by the vehicle, dying at the scene.

A summary of facts detailed the catastrophic injuries, including fractures to his jaw, spine, pelvis and ribs, as well as lacerations to his lungs and kidney.

Moore fled the scene and when he later returned the Ford, he explained the damage by saying he had “hit a dog”.

Crown prosecutor Richard Smith said the fact the defendant committed the offence to collect a "relatively paltry" drug debt, then "callously" drove away aggravated the crime.

Moore was also on bail and breaching a driving ban, as he had been on eight previous occasions, the court heard.

Counsel Kerry Cook said "death was neither foreseen nor intended" and apologised to the Buis family on behalf of his client.

He pointed Justice Eaton to a report which detailed Moore's deprived upbringing in which he was exposed to alcohol and drugs at an early age.

"There is an unfortunate inevitability about some of the positions he was going to be placed in in later life," he said.

The judge said the report made for harrowing reading and outlined the severe neglect the defendant suffered both from his mother and in state care.

He accepted Moore's actions were spontaneous but highlighted a history littered with vehicle crime and associated violence.

"You didn't mean to kill him but you must have known you could cause serious injury," he said.

"I can only infer you were caught up in the hype of the moment."

Justice Eaton banned Moore from driving for two years but declined to impose a minimum non-parole period.

Outside court, Detective Senior Sergeant Nik Leigh said the sentencing was the culmination of months of work by a team of 70 staff.

“We just hope now judgement’s been passed that this will allow the family to heal,” he said.

Justice Eaton described methamphetamine as a “scourge” on society and Det Snr Sgt Leigh concurred.

“Unfortunately, I think the availability of methamphetamine in New Zealand, and Dunedin in particular, has grown and that’s not a good thing.”