Gloucester pensioner killer wins reprieve after murder downgraded to manslaughter

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A man sentenced to 24 years’ jail for the murder of an elderly Gloucester man after a single punch has had his sentence reduced by more than half after successfully appealing the murder conviction and pleading guilty to manslaughter.

Jason Mark Grogan, 46, killed Alan Henry, 72, after punching him in his Gloucester home on January 10, 2012. Mr Henry died on April 19 that year.

He was found guilty of murder in 2013 but successfully appealed in August, 2016 and a fresh trial was ordered on a manslaughter charge.

Mr Grogan will be eligible for parole in November, 2018, after NSW Supreme Court Justice Hidden found Grogan had “reasonable prospects of rehabilitation” if a three-year parole period was set, despite Grogan’s long history of serious drug-taking and crime.

In a sentence delivered on Thursday Justice Hidden said Mr Henry came in contact with Grogan, from Port Stephens, after Grogan’s partner, Natasha Slacke, became Mr Henry’s part time carer.

Mr Henry was punched after Grogan and Slacke were involved in a heated argument at a Gloucester service station that prompted people to call police.

Grogan left the service station and went to Mr Henry’s house where there was an altercation, Mr Henry was punched and fell, and Grogan ran from the scene. He was later picked up by police.

Mr Henry was treated for head injuries, and died at a Central Coast aged care facility several months later.

Grogan’s history of drug-taking and crime included matters in three Australian states. He was on bonds after convictions at the time of the assault on Mr Henry.

Slacke pleaded guilty to hindering the police investigation into Mr Henry’s death.

Justice Hidden said Mr Henry’s daughter’s statement to the court was “an eloquent expression of the impact upon her of her father’s death, including the significant period which he had survived before he passed away”.

“It expresses not only her grief but also her outrage at the senseless violence which led to his death, and the serious and enduring effects this crime has had upon her life. It was no easy task for her. She was visibly distressed, but completed the reading with courage and dignity,” Justice Hidden said.