Man jailed after drug injection causes death
Death was the best outcome for a drug addict whose friend killed him by injecting him with morphine, the man's brother told a court on Friday.
In February, Brendon Lawson, 41, pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of his friend - a fellow drug addict he had met through Narcotics Anonymous.
On Friday, Lawson was sentenced to two years and seven months' imprisonment in the High Court at Auckland by Justice Peter Woodhouse.
The judge detailed how, in March 2010, Lawson agreed to supply the victim - whose name is suppressed - with morphine.
The victim had been drinking all day when Lawson arrived at his flat, and they both took diazepam.
Lawson dissolved the morphine in water, before injecting some into his own neck and the rest into the victim's arm.
Justice Woodhouse said both the Crown and Lawson's defence accepted the victim had consented to the injection.
After injecting the victim, Lawson went outside and talked to his girlfriend on his cellphone for 20 minutes.
When he came back he found his friend unconscious, and tried to revive him with CPR and by slapping him.
Justice Woodhouse said whether or not the victim was dead at this point is unknown, but Lawson had said he thought he was because of the colour of his lips.
Lawson panicked and left the flat, before calling his girlfriend, who convinced him to call an ambulance.
When the paramedics arrived they confirmed the man was dead.
An autopsy found he was killed by a drug overdose of alcohol, diazepam and morphine.
The man's brother read a victim impact statement to the court, recalling how his brother had been an addict since his early 20s.
He said his brother had spoken of Lawson ''with friendship and admiration", and the two seemed to have similar personalities.
He said life was hard for his brother and perhaps death was the best outcome.
''It is just difficult for the ones that are left behind.''
The brother told Lawson he hoped he could put this experience behind him and ''learn to bring joy to the world, rather than pain''.
Justice Woodhouse said the man was a ''willing victim", being a drug addict, but what Lawson did was still a serious criminal act.
The judge imposed a starting point of 4 years imprisonment, but reduced the sentence to 3 years, six months, because of the man's willingness to be treated at a drug rehabilitation centre in Dunedin.
''You may not see it this way Mr Lawson but at this stage I see that as a reasonably generous discount''.
He then gave Lawson a 25 per cent discount for his early guilty plea, leaving him with a sentence of two years and seven months.