Dad to son's killer: 'I hope when you dream you see his ghost'

Author
Sam Hurley, NZ Herald,
Section
Crime,
Publish Date
Thursday, 21 September 2017, 12:22PM

A grieving father hopes his dead boy haunts the dreams of his son's killer.

The chilling words came after Antony Marsh's 32-year-old son Leslie Putt was gunned down and died from a gut wound at an Auckland home last September.

The shooter was Bodi McKee.

A jury found McKee, 24, not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter last month.

He was sentenced today at the High Court in Auckland by Justice Matthew Muir to six years and three months in jail.

When McKee was led to the cells, a supporter of Putt's yelled: "You're f**king history, Bodi McKee!"

Why the two men were arguing at the home on Winsford St, Manurewa, on September 24 was never discussed during the trial.

However, McKee said that he was acting in self-defence after arriving at the site of a large-scale drug dealing operation about 7am.

He was carrying a loaded gun, under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and mysteriously wearing a wig, the court heard at trial.

Bodi McKee was found not guilty of murder but guilty of the manslaughter Leslie Putt last September. (Photo / Supplied)

In his victim impact statement, Marsh described his son as a bad person with a good heart.

"I don't believe he deserved to die, nor do I believe he deserved to die in such a brutal manner by being shot to death," he said.

Marsh said he was "not allowed to wish harm on the offender, but I so wish I could".

"Bodi, you stole my son's life, you have his blood on your hands. I hope when you dream you see his ghost."

Marsh said he didn't know his son for much of his life and only just learned he has grandchildren.

"For many years I didn't know he had a child," he said.

"I cannot replace the dad that they have lost - they have lost a future with him, just as he has lost a future with them."

While Marsh's statement was read McKee broke down in tears in the dock.

Putt's mother, who lived near the shooting, said in a statement that she relives "that terrible day everyday of my life".

Her son died in her arms after she rushed to the scene.

"When I got there my son was lying on the ground, I couldn't see any blood, I couldn't see any bullet hole," she said.

Her boy uttered: "I have been shot, Mum. I love you."

She didn't believe McKee showed any remorse during the trial and she now self-medicates to cope with her son's death.

"Why won't you admit what you did?" She asked McKee.

"It takes a brave man to stand up to what they've done. The only brave man I see is my son."

She said the only grace in her boy's death was that he "is now with his brother".

Armed police at the scene of the shooting on Winsford St in Auckland last year. (Photo / Brett Phibbs)

McKee also produced a letter that he wished to be read before the court.

"I understand that this is a serious offence, and my actions have changed many lives forever, not just my own, but my victim's family and the community at large," he said.

"I am truly sorry for what I have done and the losses that all have to go through."

He said he has grown significantly while in custody and wishes he could "turn back time" to prevent the tragedy.

"I have taken a son and father, I can never undo that," he said.

McKee said he never intended to shoot and kill Putt and had been taking the gun to another location.

"To this day, I still don't actually remember pulling the trigger, although I've relived those moments now for many months," he said.

"If the Crown had amended the charge to manslaughter [from murder], I would have pleaded guilty months ago."

McKee, who has a 3-year-old son, said once he was released he would "set a better example for my son".

Justice Muir described McKee as a "very immature" 24-year-old and had he been a "decent human being" would have phoned 111.

McKee was arrested two days after the shooting in Papakura.

His defence lawyer Annabel Ives argued that her terrified client was trying to flee the hostile situation.

High levels of meth were found in Putt's body, explaining his aggression, she said.

As Ives argued for a reduced sentence for her client, Justice Muir interrupted and said she was placing "a very low tariff on human life".

However, during his sentencing remarks, he said McKee's actions could be described as "excessive self-defence" and did not intend to fire a fatal shot, but rather a warning.

The judge said McKee was at a "complete crossroads in his life" as to whether he welcomed his rehabilitation or continued down a criminal path.

McKee and Putt had been on the run from police at the time of the shooting. The gun, described as a dark-coloured pistol wrapped in tape, has never been found.

McKee has several prior convictions, including possession of an offensive weapon in 2011, and injuring with intent to injure in 2012.

Justice Muir said he suspects "there is a back story to all of this that none of us know".

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