A FRUIT farmer turned drug kingpin who shot dead a crazed thief at his Tweed Valley property has secured an early release from jail.
Barry Grant, 56, is serving a 12-year sentence for the manslaughter of Jethro Matheson, whose decomposing body was found in Border Ranges National Park at Kyogle in February 2009.
An investigation had been running for several months after neighbours reported gunshots at Grant's Condong property - home to a recently uncovered $3million marijuana crop.
The NSW Supreme Court previously heard Grant turned to the drug business after hitting hard times as a banana and strawberry farmer.
He told the court he had bought a rifle for protection after his first "successful" batch of cannabis plants attracted two armed men to his property in August 2008.
The following January, Grant was drinking a beer when Mr Matheson burst into his home, in disguise and armed with a crowbar.
Thinking he was about to be killed, Grant reached for his gun.
"I spun and said 'stop' but he kept rushing towards me and growling as if he was crazy, holding the crowbar with both hands above his head about to smash it down on my head," Grant said
"To save my life I fired the pistol but he kept coming at me… I was terrified and I fired it again."
The court heard Mr Matheson was injured and ran from the house but Grant soon discovered his body next to his back shed.
"I could tell he was dead…I panicked and put his body in my truck (which was later torched) and drove around for hours before leaving it in a forest area," Grant said
Two weeks after the discovery of Mr Matheson's body sparked a massive manhunt, Grant handed himself in at the Byron Police Station.
Last week, Grant's solicitor appealed the severity of the sentence on the grounds there had been a "miscarriage of justice".
The Criminal Court of Appeal found Grant's former legal team had failed him by accepting he had intended to kill, not just harm, the victim.
The panel ruled that while Grant was "not a person of good character" he was unlikely to reoffend.
The 12-year head sentence was reduced to 10.
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