Man wins case to reduce manslaughter jail sentence

A MAN sentenced to jail for his friend's manslaughter has won his case in Queensland's highest court to reduce his jail term.

Earlier this year Ronald Peter McCusker, 52, was sentenced to six years and three months jail after pleading guilty to manslaughter.

He killed his friend, John Douglas Dive, on New Year's Day 2012 at a property near Gin Gin after they had been drinking together.

When sentenced at Bundaberg Supreme Court the judge ordered he be eligible for parole in April 2017.

But on appeal, McCusker's lawyers argued the judge did not take into account the full time he'd already spent in jail. McCusker spent 553 days in jail before being sentenced but argued the judge took into account only 35 days.

The Court of Appeal found the judge made an error and changed McCusker's sentence so he would be eligible for parole immediately.

He is still in jail at Capricornia Correctional Centre in Rockhampton.

Justice Duncan McMeekin's Court of Appeal judgment published yesterday said there was no reason why McCusker's time in jail should not be considered.

He also said McCusker "did what he could" when he realised his friend was dead.

McCusker and Mr Dive had been friends for about 20 years and were arguing and drinking for hours at a property near Gin Gin, west of Bundaberg in the hours leading up to Mr Dive's death.

Mr Dive was about to get into his car when McCusker stopped him from opening the door, grabbed him by the neck and got ready to punch him. But before he could, Mr Dive became a dead weight in his hand.

"When he realised his friend's plight he was immediately remorseful," Justice McMeekin said. "He called for help. He did what he could. He pleaded guilty."

Justice McMeekin said McCusker should be re-sentenced to six years jail with an earlier parole eligibility date.

- APN NEWSDESK


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