21 Sep 2017

Emotions run high at fatal shooting sentencing

5:29 pm on 21 September 2017

Emotions boiled over at the High Court in Auckland as a man was jailed today for a fatal shooting.

Entrance to the High Court in Auckland

Auckland High Court. Photo: justice.govt.nz

Family members of the victim Leslie Putt called out to Bodie McKee as he was led into the dock to be given his sentence of six years and three months.

There was bad blood between McKee and Leslie Putt, despite the pair having a mutual friend.

McKee arrived at his friend's Manurewa home early on a Saturday morning in September, last year. Witnesses described him as being 'amped'.

Justice Muir said he had no doubt McKee had been drinking or was on drugs when he showed up with a .22 calibre pistol.

After talking to his friend, he noticed Mr Putt's car parked out front and approached, pulling the door open and yelling.

"Mr Putt adopted a fighting stance and challenged Mr Mckee to a one-on-one fist fight."

He said Mr Putt demanded McKee drop the gun.

During the stand-off McKee asked his friend, twice, if he could come through the house to get away. His friend said no.

"At that point, Mr Putt advanced on Mr McKee, swinging at him but in a manner and at a distance unlikely to connect, in what the Crown described in closing as a fake."

Mr Putt called McKee a name before telling him he'd never use the gun.

"Mr McKee drew the weapon up reflexively, as Mr Putt swung at him, and then discharged it."

The bullet hit Mr Putt in the stomach, cutting an artery, causing internal bleeding and death.

Justice Muir said he sentenced McKee on the basis that he had intended to fire a warning shot or to injure him without killing him.

Afterwards, McKee ran from the house - he didn't help Mr Putt or call an ambulance.

McKee got rid of the gun and went on the run for two days.

Meanwhile, back at the house, Mr Putt's mother, Marlene Sellars arrived. She told the court in her Victim Impact Statement, read by a victim advisor, that she found her son lying on the ground.

"My son was looking at me and saying: "I have been shot Mum. I love you.' He was on my lap like he was a baby, 33 years ago, like a newborn child."

She said she was now smoking marijuana every day, taking sleeping pills and getting counselling to help her with her post traumatic stress disorder.

Mr Putt's father, Antony Marsh, said he'd only recently begun to re-connect with his son who he described as a bad man with a good heart.

"You stole my son's life, you have his blood on your hands. I hope that in your dreams you face his ghost."

On McKee's behalf, his lawyer Annabel Ives asked for a discount for her client because he had offered to plead guilty to manslaughter ahead of his trial. She argued that the Judge could reach an end sentence as low as four years.

Ms Ives said there was no tariff for manslaughter and it was a matter for His Honour.

In sentencing McKee, Justice Muir said the 24 year-old had racked up 46 convictions, including aggravated robbery, possession of an offensive weapon and injuring with intent to injure.

He gave McKee a discount for his offer of a guilty plea to manslaughter before trial and for his attempts to get out of the situation, but in the end, Justice Muir said McKee could have chosen to turn and run. He did not.