A man whose moment of “senseless” rage caused the death of his father, all over a dispute about watering the garden, has been handed a five-year jail term.
Timothy Howard McCaffrey never intended to seriously hurt or kill his father, David Howard McCaffrey, when a loud argument broke out between the pair over Timothy’s water usage.
But in a matter of seconds, the 45-year-old escalated the argument by grabbing his father and pushing him, leading to a tragic outcome for the family.
Facing Brisbane Supreme Court on Tuesday, family members wept as Justice Thomas Bradley sentenced Timothy to a five year jail term.
With time already served in custody since 2018, his sentence was suspended for five years.
Timothy had pleaded guilty to manslaughter in August for the unlawful killing of David, 69, in April 2018.
The court was told Timothy was watering plants at the family’s Clontarf home on April 23, 2018, when he was confronted by David.
Crown prosecutor Christopher Cook said an argument broke out between the pair about Timothy “using too much water”.
The argument continued inside, culminating in a confrontation on the stairs where Timothy grabbed his father’s throat for a few seconds, causing him to lose his balance.
Mr Cook said there was a stark difference in size between the pair, with Timothy weighing over 90kg at the time compared to his “fragile” father’s 54kg frame.
Timothy then pushed his father, where he fell from the first step of the house landing and hit his head on the floor.
“The defendant heard a loud crack… he saw his father twitch and squirm, he turned blue and was not breathing,” Mr Cook said.
David McCaffrey was rushed to hospital but died of head injuries some time later.
Mr Cook said while Timothy had no intention to kill, his behaviour was “violent” and had caused the tragic loss of life.
The court was told the pair had a history of animosity and there were instances of verbal abuse and violence from David towards family members.
Defence lawyer Jessica Horne said her client was remorseful for his actions and had been “overcome” with grief and sorrow.
She told the court prior to his father being taken to hospital, Timothy had performed CPR on him.
Ms Horne said Timothy was seeking treatment for his mental health issues and wished to re-engage with work and his church.
In sentencing Timothy to five years’ jail, Justice Thomas Bradley said any sentence imposed “will always, in some sense, feel inadequate to deal with the loss of a person who was for many years a member of your family.”
But he said an ordinary person would have seen death as a potential consequence.
“To view the events as limited to those that occurred on the day… would be to take a rather truncated view of things,” Justice Bradley said.
“I take into account the fact you had many decades of living with the knowledge and consequences of your father’s wholly inappropriate acts of violence and intimidation towards your mother, yourself and your sister.