Trevor Veale

Grogan gets 24 years in jail over bashing widower to death

A VIOLENT ex-con has been sentenced to 24 years jail over the bashing murder of a defenceless widower on the NSW mid north coast.

Former Coffs Harbour man Jason Mark Grogan was in a tumultuous relationship with his girlfriend Natasha Slacke when he lost control and attacked the elderly pensioner she had been caring for at Gloucester, near Taree.

The NSW Supreme Court heard that when 72-year-old Alan Henry lost his partner in 2010, Ms Slacke began shopping, cleaning and helping around the house in exchange for payment.

A neighbour told the court that when Mr Henry returned from his stint in hospital, he heard him tell Grogan to "get out and don't come back".

On the night of January 10, last year, the couple was involved in a "very heated argument" at a Gloucester service station when a witness flagged down a passing police car.

Ms Slacke phoned Mr Henry and said she was coming to visit and passed the phone to the police officer.

When asked if it was okay that Ms Slacke went to the house, Mr Henry replied - "Yeah that's fine, as long as her boyfriend's not with her...he's an absolute a***hole and isn't welcome here".

While the police officer was still speaking with Ms Slacke, Grogan ran to Mr Henry's home and jumped the back fence.

He was in the house for a few minutes before he fled with Mr Henry's lap top computer.

Ms Slacke later discovered Mr Henry unconscious on his kitchen floor with a pool of blood around his head.

He was airlifted to Westmead Hospital and cared for until late march when he died of a subsequent brain injury.

A Port Macquarie jury found Grogan guilty of murder in August last year.

The court heard Grogan had grown up at Coffs Harbour and had a long history of drug addiction which was linked to criminal offences across three states.

Justice Robert Hulme said general deterrence was important in all murder sentences but in this particular case it was important to "mark the seriousness of with which the courts seek to protect the community's senior citizens from violent offences committed by intruders into their homes".

In a victim impact statement before the court, Mr Henry's daughter Susan wrote "I can only pray that my father's death can become a legacy to all citizens to be mindful of the choices that they make and the consequential impact those decisions have on the lives of their fellow citizens and families...I believe this is the greatest gift we as humans can give to one another".

Justice Hulme said the effect Mr Henry's death had on his daughter was "nothing short of profound" and congratulated her on being able "to think beyond her own intense grief to the wider ramifications in the community".

Grogan was sentenced to a total of 24 years jail with a non-parole period of 18 years.

He will be eligible for release in May, 2030.

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