From memory, the victim in that matter was being a bit of a knob, but not violent or aggressive. Just a bit mouthy. I'm not entirely sure it's ever justified punching some guy out just because he's being a bit lippy. Yes, we all think about doing it, but being a thug just because someone is being cheeky is never really on. You also run the risk that you do them serious injury or kill them.
The bit that rankled me in that article is "He partially blamed Asthana's death on late night opening hours, and said he had suffered the loss of his naval career, experience financial hardship, "as well as emotional scarring, guilt, depression and anxiety all as a result of my actions". "
Generally when you go to prison for killing someone you lose your career and therefore experience financial hardship. But at least you're not dead, like the guy you killed is. McFarland looks to be a big boy, and the victim doesn't look very big at all. When you hit someone in the head with that sort of mismatch, you absolutely roll the dice.
It's also a pretty long bow to draw to say that it's the late night opening hours. There were probably 3000 other people out drinking in the CBD that night as well, and very few of them decided to punch someone out over something so minor.
I agree with Godder's sentiments regarding the fine balancing act with liqour enforcement. While it is absolutely necessary in some places, the Ellerslie races is a perfect example of where they have gone overkill. Can't BYO anymore because glammed up girls and guys in suits got too drunk, (but didn't really cause any major trouble). Yet still, the fun police decide they're gonna do something about it, even in the absence of any real violence or disorder (I did lock a guy up there once who was too drunk to notice my car was an unmarked CIB car and kicked it when I honked at him to get off the road, leaving a pretty good dent. But that's another story)
When I was frontline, or worked special events (RWC etc), I was never a fan of locking people up solely for breach of liquor ban etc. I agree that the bans are in place for all the right reasons - not just to stop people taking a heap of cheap piss into town and preloading before going into licenced premises. But also to stop drunk people carrying glass bottles (potential weapons) around town and generally just milling in the street drinking.
In general, they have been quite good for reducing disorder in hotspots. That said, in my past life, I'd had mates locked up for the relatively minor offence of carrying a half empty bottle of lion red from a taxi to the nearest bin outside a nightclub and it's pretty shithouse and not a good look for the cops in the eye of the average citizen. I used to deal with liquor ban breaches either by making people tip it out, leave the area with it (if they had heaps of booze in a car and I didn't want make them waste it) or else my favourite of telling them that I was just gonna go and write in my notebook and if the alcohol was gone by the time I turned back around that they'd be all good, however they disposed of it. I'd then sit in the car and chuckle at a bunch of 18 year olds trying to knock back beers so they wouldn't get poured out. Obviously used in only the right circumstances where the guys weren't already hammered, and weren't causing problems, but always hilarious.
My reasoning was that it was far better enforcement than just being a fluffybunny and locking them up and wasting my time and them ending up with a conviction for something stupidly minor. That said, it was a massive attitude test as well. If they decided they wanted to be a cock, then I enforced the law, because chances were that they were gonna be a cock later on and we'd end up dealing with them then.
Since those times though the balance of enforcement has shifted with liquor ban enforcement and it's now a case of locking people up is only the very last resort, as opposed to where it used to be the first resort, which is absolutely the right move.
At the end of the day, alcohol does a huge amount of social harm, so enforcement is absolutely necessary, but as Godder mentioned, it's quite a balancing act to do it. A huge percentage of frontline lock ups are alcohol related, but it's also unfair to penalise those who can use it responsibly, just because a minority can't.