Aaron Bunch Journalist with Australian Associated Press | Collection of published work | + 61 484 008 119 | abunch@aap.com.au

Aaron Bunch
Fatal BBQ bashing sentence unfair: family

The family of a man who died after he was attacked at a Brisbane barbecue says they are “gutted” by the manslaughter sentence handed to one of his attackers.

February 13, 2020

Relatives of a man fatally beaten at a Brisbane barbecue for making an offensive but trivial comment say they’re gutted one of his attackers could serve less than four years in jail.

Justin Towers, 37, was singing and dancing in a Beenleigh backyard in May 2017 when he made the remark about Malik Morris’ mum.

In response, Morris, then 17, asked: “Should I knock you the f*** out?”

His stepfather, Kawana Pinikera, said nothing.

Instead, he punched Mr Towers in the head, the Brisbane Supreme Court heard on Thursday.

“With that you joined in. You started punching Mr Towers while he laid on the ground,” Justice Burns said addressing Morris, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

“He was saying sorry … (but) you showed him no mercy.”

The pair punched and kicked Mr Towers to his face, head and body until he was unconscious.

“He was vulnerable and defenceless,” Justice Burns said.

A friend tried to help Mr Towers escape, but Morris chased his victim down and again kicked him to the head.

Five or six other people also joined in.

By the time he was bundled into a car, Mr Towers had suffered 65 separate injuries, including fractures to an eye socket, nasal bones and cheeks, Justice Burns said.

He also had fractures to five ribs, bruises, abrasions and lacerations.

Mr Towers died three days later at Princess Alexandra Hospital from his head injuries.

Morris initially denied the full extent of his attack but was undone when he unwittingly confessed to an undercover police officer.

“You admitted to hitting Mr Towers in the head and stomping on him,” Justice Burns said.

“It was a prolonged, savage and remorseless attack.”

Morris was jailed for nine years, but he will be eligible for parole after serving three years and nine months.

Outside court, Mr Towers’ family said they were “gutted” by the “appalling” sentence and Morris had been “let off”.

“We wanted (a minimum of) 10 years. We got three and a half,” mother Shirlene Towers said.

“It’s not fair. (Justin) was a guy who lived life to the fullest – a larrikin who loved his family.”

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