A man who yesterday pleaded guilty to manslaughter after a road rage attack three months ago is said to have a history of picking on those more vulnerable.
Bio O'Brien, 28, a student from the tiny Pacific nation of Tuvalu, yesterday pleaded guilty in Auckland District Court to the manslaughter of Jasmatbhai Patel, 78.
Mr Patel, a van driver, was attacked by O'Brien after what police called a "minor crash" with his
Mr Patel was admitted to Auckland Hospital but died the following day.
O'Brien admitted the manslaughter charge after he and his lawyer worked through all the documents in the crown case.
A woman who knew O'Brien well through the Tuvaluan community told the Unitec student magazine In Unison, she was not surprised when she first heard of the assault.
The 21-year-old, who goes by the name Latoya, said: "I knew that was coming, I had a feeling. He's got a real temper on him."
Latoya has known O'Brien for about 10 years. She says "he's the type of guy that is really creepy.
"He comes across as really cocky ... He used to get drunk and start trouble wherever, and whenever. He's not a nice guy."
She said in the Tuvaluan youth community all the girls knew him as a "wannabe player", and so avoided him.
Due to an experience she had with O'Brien when she was younger, Latoya believed he was "the type of guy to beat up women".
He was a "cocky, forceful guy only to people he knows are vulnerable and weak".
O'Brien was studying first year engineering at Unitec at the time of the attack.
However, since the guilty plea, a Unitec spokesperson told In Unison that he had been un-enrolled.
"Bio O'Brien is no longer enrolled as a Unitec student due to his inability to attend classes.
"In general, students who are unable to attend classes will be withdrawn from their programme when the institute is made aware of changes to their personal circumstances that prevent them from attending."
O'Brien was remanded in custody until sentencing in the High Court at Auckland on September 29.
Today, a post on news website voxy.co.nz by a person claiming to be a relative of Bio O'Brien apologised to the Patel family.
"I fully understand the hurt and anger Mr Patel's family is feeling and will always feel towards Mr O'Brien," the writer said.
"I know that at this moment, no words expressed by us, the family or anyone else would relieve the anguish and despite what has been said about Mr O'Brien's family's lack of sympathy, we did and always will.
"We are humans after all, and empathetic enough to understand their sadness."
The writer said that since the attack, the O'Brien family had been legally advised to not contact the Patel family, which they had wanted to do.
They said O'Brien had always intended to plead guilty to manslaughter, they said.
"He says he wants to remember his guilt always for his role in the death of another human being, however small it may be."
The case dragged on because he refused to admit to the prosecution's summary of facts that stated he had "punched the old man with closed fists" in accordance to eyewitness reports.
Both the defence and Crown's pathologists' reports stated that there were no marks on his face, head, neck, or body that could be attributed to a blow or blows, the writer said.
"So we the family questioned the prosecution's facts and demanded an inclusion of the pathologist's evidence to suit the scientific facts. It was then changed to `strike', not punched."