7 May 2021

Brent Bacon's killer sentenced to life imprisonment

1:35 pm on 7 May 2021

A Dunedin man who bludgeoned his friend to death with a cricket bat will spend 17 years behind bars.

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Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

John Collins was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Brent Bacon, when he appeared in the Dunedin High Court this morning.

Collins killed the 45-year-old father-of-three late on 4 February 2019 at the state housing unit of Collins' wife in the Dunedin suburb of St Clair.

The 39-year-old beat Bacon with such ferocity he broke the cricket bat in two.

Collins, along with his wife Aleisha Dawson, wrapped Bacon's body in a sleeping bag and put it into his car.

Collins and Dawson then disposed of Bacons's body near Waitati, north of Dunedin, before fleeing to the North Island in the victim's car.

They sold his car for $250 before crossing Cook Strait on a ferry.

It would be two weeks before Bacon's body was found.

Lia Bezett, Bacon's sister, told Collins she was tormented "just thinking of that small moment in time when you flipped out".

Collins had robbed Bacon of his future and his family of their future with him, she said.

"He was a mentor to others. He was a friend to Aleisha and John. While he had his battles, he was a genuinely good guy," she said.

Prosecutor Richard Smith said the Crown contended the evidence suggested it was an unprovoked attack, likely taking place while Bacon sat on a couch.

Bacon's injuries were suggestive of him trying to protect himself as blows rained down from above, Smith said.

"This was a determined and persistent assault that didn't have any indications of having taken place in self-defence."

The defence argued Collins killed Bacon in self-defence after he threatened him with scissors.

Collins' lawyer, Len Andersen QC, said his client was aware of the gravity of what he had done.

"He regrets not just the effect this has had on himself, but the effect it's had on other people," Andersen said.

"He accepts he's going to have to deal with his violence problem and his drug problem before he has any chance of convincing the Parole Board he's ready to be released."

Justice Jan-Marie Doogue said the injuries to Bacon were substantial.

Part of his skull was missing and his fingers were fractured.

The judge told Collins he had betrayed Bacon and his family, who had seen the best in him.

"You stole the rest of his life from him ... although he's gone, he's not ever going to be forgotten by his strong and loving family," Justice Doogue said.

As Justice Doogue told Collins that he appeared to have come to terms with what he had done and the need for a lengthy prison sentence, he nodded.

Collins was sentenced to life imprisonment with a 17-year non-parole period.

Dawson is already serving a prison sentence after admitting to being an accessory to the murder.

She admitted putting Bacon's body into a sleeping bag and dumping it under a tree.