A young man fatally stabbed during a street brawl in central western NSW has been remembered in court as a "peacemaker" with a gentle soul.
Shelby Stanley, 21, on Thursday faced a NSW Supreme Court sentencing hearing over the manslaughter of his step-cousin Bradley Stanley, who died after being stabbed in the early hours of January 3, 2021, in the town of Wellington.
Shelby Stanley pleaded not guilty at trial to murder but guilty to manslaughter on the basis of excessive self-defence.
Several victim impact statements were read out at Thursday's hearing attended by a large number of the victim's relatives, who filled the court's public gallery and wore t-shirts commemorating their loved one.
A cousin said she had struggled every day since the killing, and still found it hard to get to sleep at night.
"All I want is to be with Brad and this nightmare to be over," the witness said in her statement, which was read in court by a relative.
Bradley's "soul mate and best friend", who had been in a long-term relationship with him, said life had been "excruciatingly hard" since his death, which had taken away her hopes for a happy future.
She said everything had changed since losing him, telling of severe night terrors, numbing her pain with alcohol, and not knowing what her future would now hold.
"I struggle to get out of bed, struggle to do everyday things," she said.
She recalled Bradley's gentle nature, his patience, his cheeky smile and the "rare and special" love they had.
Another cousin, in her statement, recalled the "shock and horror" at receiving the news of Bradley's death on the way to see him at Dubbo Base Hospital.
She told the court she arrived too late but kissed and hugged his body before seeing him put into a body bag and wheeled away down a hallway.
"I didn't get to say goodbye to him ... I cried out 'I love you my brother'."
Other victim impact statements from relatives described Bradley as a hard worker, a young man of integrity, and someone who "simply loved".
"He was a peacemaker," the court was told.
In submissions, defence counsel Sharyn Hall argued the manslaughter was not above mid-range and urged Justice Julia Lonergan to take into account that it was the offender's first time in custody.
Ms Hall noted her client would need assistance on release from prison in relation to alcohol and drug abuse, "general violence" and disadvantage.
Shelby Stanley, who appeared in court via audio-visual link in prison greens, showed little emotion during the hearing.
Justice Lonergan thanked those who read statements about the "much loved" young man before adjourning the matter for sentence to a date yet to be fixed in December.