Australian jailed over deadly lawn-watering fight

A man was today sentenced to at least 18 months in jail for fatally beating another man during an argument over Sydney’s water restrictions.

Todd Munter, 39, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in December and had faced up to 25 years in jail.

But the sentencing judge said the circumstances surrounding the killing called for a lighter penalty and sentenced Munter to three years, three months in prison. He is eligible for parole in 18 months.

Ken Proctor, 66, was watering his front lawn in October 2007 when Munter walked by and accused him of breaking the city’s water restrictions.

When Munter called him a “stupid old goat”, Proctor turned his hose on the younger man, prosecutors said.

Munter then punched, pushed and kicked Proctor until he hit the ground, prosecutors said.

Minutes later, Proctor suffered a heart attack and died despite Munter’s attempts to resuscitate him.

Munter’s lawyer, Philip Young, said his client was under stress, having been told the morning of the attack that he would have to undergo surgery. His fiancé had also recently left him.

New South Wales state Supreme Court Justice Roderick Howie acknowledged the sentence was lenient, but said that the attack was out of character for Munter and that he was clearly remorseful.

The judge also noted that Proctor “would not have been seriously injured” had he not suffered from severe heart disease before the attack.

Proctor was in fact complying with Sydney’s water restrictions when he was killed. Watering with hand-held hoses is allowed on Wednesdays and Sundays before 10am and after 4pm.

All major cities in Australia have water use restrictions as the nation experiences its worst drought in a century.

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