29 Sep 2009

Road rage driver jailed for killing elderly man

10:54 pm on 29 September 2009

A driver who admitted killing an elderly man in a road rage attack in Auckland has been jailed for three years.

Jasmatbai Patel, 78, died in hospital after suffering critical head injuries in the attack, which followed a minor crash in the suburb of Mt Albert in April this year.

Bio O'Brien, 28, was sentenced at the Auckland High Court on Tuesday after pleading guilty to manslaughter in July.

The court was told O'Brien, driving a black BMW in rush-hour traffic, became enraged after a minor accident with a van driven by Mr Patel.

Witnesses saw O'Brien pull Mr Patel from his vehicle and attack him, in front of horrified school children.

During sentencing, Justice Potter told the court it was an appalling case of road rage and his actions were totally out of proportion to the situation. However, the judge accepted O'Brien showed genuine remorse for his actions.

O'Brien has several prevoius convictions, including assault and threatening to kill. Justice Potter said she would not take those into account, due to their historic nature.

Crown lawyer Nick Malarao asked for a sentence of between four-and-a-half and five years, given O'Brien's size, age advantage and the public nature of the offending.

Defence lawyer David Niven asked for a three-year sentence, saying O'Brien regretted his actions as soon as Mr Patel hit the sidewalk.

Outside court, Mr Patel's son, George Patel, said he would never forgive O'Brien for causing his father's death and he does not believe that he is sorry.

Mr Patel says the three-year jail term imposed is not long enough.