‘Heinous’ decision: man who stabbed boxing champion jailed for manslaughter

Killed: John Marceta. John Marceta

Knowing that the man who had just kicked in his front door was a boxing champion, Craig Charles Pitts made the “heinous” decision to pick up a kitchen knife.

Pitts then followed John Marceta, who had been trying to buy pot, down the hallway, and they fought on the 14th storey of a Redfern housing commission apartment block.

The 29-year-old stabbed Mr Marceta in the chest, piercing his heart.

Mr Marceta, who won the Australian super-middleweight title in 1993 and was once a world-rated boxer, staggered towards the lifts and collapsed.

Pitts argued he was defending himself from Mr Marceta on that day in August 2011. He was found guilty of manslaughter after a trial last year.

In the NSW Supreme Court on Thursday, Justice Christine Adamson sentenced Pitts to at least seven-and-a-half years’ jail, making a finding of manslaughter by excessive self-defence.

“The offender assessed correctly that the deceased was in significantly better physical condition than he was,” Justice Adamson said.

“In a heinous and misguided attempt to redress the physical discrepancy between them, he armed himself with a knife before confronting the deceased in the corridor outside his unit.”

The court heard Mr Marceta and another man had tried to buy cannabis from Pitts several times that day, but he told them to come back later.

The men returned to Pitts’ unit, where one of his relatives again asked them to return another time, before Mr Marceta suddenly kicked in the door.

Pitts yelled out “Why did you kick my front door in?” and followed the men down the hall holding the knife.

After the stabbing, Pitts went back to his unit “in a state of shock and dismay”, Justice Adamson said.

The judge said it was possible Pitts thought his actions were necessary to protect himself and his relatives in the unit.

“I am satisfied that the offender’s conduct was not a reasonable response in the circumstances as he perceived them to be because his act of stabbing the deceased was excessive.”

She said Pitts did not have any animosity with the men, but nevertheless intended to hurt Mr Marceta.

“The offender misjudged the threat which the deceased posed to him and his family. By resorting to violence with a dangerous weapon he overreacted, with disastrous and irreversible consequences.”

The judge set a maximum term of 10 years, and with time already served, Pitts’ earliest release date is March 2020.

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