Brodie Graham Champion, previously unidentified due to suppression, has pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Grant Jopson in a stabbing case that shocked the community. Champion’s murder charge was dropped, and he appeared in the High Court at Dunedin where Justice Rachel Dunningham faced the difficult decision of determining his sentence. Mr. Jopson’s wife, Brenda Gamble, shared a heartbreaking account of saying goodbye to her husband as he lay still and cold in the hospital, and spoke of his selfless nature and how he died protecting his family. Les Gamble, Mr. Jopson’s brother-in-law, expressed his unforgiving sentiment towards Champion, stating that he had no reason or right to kill Grant and had made the world a much poorer place.
The tragic incident began when Champion, mistakenly believing his 22-year-old neighbor was involved in a road rage incident, confronted the neighbor’s mother and left her with a threatening message for her son. After informing Mr. Jopson about the encounter, he decided to intervene. Champion, who had been clipping his hedge, quickly retrieved a 20cm kitchen knife when he saw Mr. Jopson and his son approaching. A heated argument ensued, with both parties yelling at each other. It was during this confrontation that tragedy struck.
Mr. Jopson, armed with an aluminum broom, struck Champion multiple times, causing the head of the broom to fall off. Simultaneously, his son hurled a terracotta pot, which hit its mark. Cornered, Champion began swinging the knife wildly, ultimately lunging at Mr. Jopson, who sustained a stomach wound and collapsed on the grass. The post-mortem examination revealed that the 10-13cm-deep wound partially cut a vein and ended in the spine.
Champion immediately confessed to police about his actions, claiming he had warned Mr. Jopson. Crown prosecutor Craig Power argued that imprisonment was warranted as a means to emphasize the sanctity of life. On the other hand, Champion’s counsel, Sarah Saunderson-Warner, maintained that home detention would be a significant sentence, especially considering Champion’s low risk of reoffending. Character references described him as kind and generous, with no history of displaying aggressive tendencies. Justice Dunningham acknowledged an element of self-defense in Champion’s actions and noted his lack of violence history. A psychological report revealed a family background of instability, resulting in a PTSD diagnosis.
During the trial, Brenda Gamble expressed the pain of being without her partner, emphasizing the silence and emptiness left by Grant’s absence. The loss of such a loud and present character is difficult to bear.
In conclusion, the guilty plea of Brodie Graham Champion in the manslaughter of Grant Jopson has brought the heartbreaking details of this stabbing case to light. With the sentence still pending, the court has been presented with various perspectives, considering factors like self-defense and the defendant’s background. As the victim’s family grapples with the loss of their beloved Grant, the community awaits the court’s decision in this tragic and devastating incident.