But that stranger, Mark Ronald Garson, didn’t give him a chance.
Garson threatened to kill Mrs. Buckley and would not let her kiss her dying fiancé before leaving with him.
The crimes were committed in August 2019, near Raglan, New Zealand.
You must turn 15 years and four months before parole is considered, Judge Christine Gordon said in Hamilton Superior Court.
Garson, 24, was in Te Toto Gorge for his arranged suicide, defense attorney Charles Bean said.
He was stranded when a friend he was using methamphetamine with stayed in the car.
So he headed for the caravan.
“I was amazed that a human being could do what you just did before my eyes,” Buckley said as he addressed Garson directly in court.
“I didn’t have a single moment to sit down with my love.”
When she begged, Garson said “No, I’ll take care of him,” and closed the door between them before walking away, he said.
The big waves had caused Buckley to stop surfing the day before and Mr. McKinnon had promised him that they would try again.
“Little did we know there would be no tomorrow for him,” he said.
Garson took home a donor, an artist, a musician and a beautiful spirit, Buckley said.
Sean McKinnon was one of six siblings who grew up in a home with violence and alcohol, said his sister Emmeline McKinnon.
Mrs. McKinnon was devastated to lose the kind-natured little brother who had beaten the odds.
“Sean meant everything to those who loved him, but his death made no sense.”
He would have helped Garson if he had asked, he said.
“Sean would have had 1,000 reasons for choosing a life of crime,” said another sister, Mary McKinnon.
“Sean helped complete strangers, and he would have been trying to do that when he died.”
He was the brother who encouraged her to catch bigger waves, made her try strange foods, and was destined to help her paint her house, which was left half done.
McKinnon’s two more brothers, Jessica and Lachlan, and his close friend Wayne Such also read his statements.
Crown prosecutor Jacinda Hamilton said the murder was an explosive violent episode.
“There was a high level of insensitivity.
“This man did indeed execute Mr. McKinnon when Mr. McKinnon was doing everything he could to help him.”
What happened was a real tragedy, defense attorney Charles Bean said, but Garson’s methamphetamine addiction and mental health issues provided context.
Garson attempted several attempts on his life in the weeks leading up to the shooting and was seen by the crisis team after his arrest.
He hoped to complete rehab and help others, Bean said.
Garson’s cruel act occurred in a caravan that should have been a sanctuary for McKinnon and Buckley, Judge Gordon said.
Garson had said that he was hallucinating and hearing voices at the time.
She imposed 15 1/2 years, after granting discounts for Garson’s guilty pleas and personal factors.
If he could stay away from methamphetamine, reports indicated that he would be much less likely to offend, he said.
However, even if released, Garson could be removed at any time if deemed necessary.
He was sentenced to three years in prison for threatening to kill Buckley, to be served at the same time.