Fatal Wellington punch came after racist slur

  • 21/09/2015
Fatal Wellington punch came after racist slur

A Wellington man had drunk a bottle-and-a-half of cheap, watered-down vodka before calling another man "n****r" and then suffering a fatal punch, a court has been told.

Hariboy Hetaraka, 42, went on trial in the High Court at Wellington today, over the death of Clark McCulloch.

He has been charged with manslaughter or an alternative charge of causing grievous bodily harm.

Mr McCulloch, a 59-year-old alcoholic, died in hospital two-and-half months after being punched on Brooklyn Rd on the morning of July 1 last year.

Crown prosecutor Sally Carter told the court Mr McCulloch and his girlfriend had been arguing on the street over an empty vodka bottle when Hetaraka called out from his council flat for Mr McCulloch to leave her alone.

"Come down and stop me, n****r," came the reply.

Hetaraka went down and punched Mr McCulloch in the jaw, and he fell and smashed his head on the concrete.

It took police three days, using swipe records from the council flats, to track Hetaraka down as the man who had come out at the time Mr McCulloch was hit, Ms Carter said.

Mr McCulloch's girlfriend, who has name suppression, told the court she had been going out with the chronic alcoholic for about seven years.

He came around about 8am that day and drank one-and-a-half bottles of $10 watered down vodka in about two hours before they decided to go for a walk up to the Brooklyn shops.

She admitted Mr McCulloch had used the word nigger when Hetaraka confronted them about it, but she walked away and didn't see any violence.

When she turned around and looked up the road she knew the man lying prone was her boyfriend.

The trial is expected to last two weeks.