Melvin Roberts sat stone-faced on the prisoner’s bench yesterday morning in Amherst provincial court, his arms crossed in front of his chest, while family members struggled to hold back tears.

Roberts, 35, was sentenced to four years in federal prison in the June 6 death of his 47-year-old uncle, Paul Douglas Arsenault. He entered a guilty plea to the count of manslaughter during an appearance Sept. 8.

Crown attorney Bruce Baxter said the accused had battled drug and alcohol problems from a young age.

On June 5, Roberts went to his uncle’s apartment on Queen Street in Amherst, the same apartment building where Arsenault’s body was found.

His body, however, was found in another relative’s unit in the building.

During police questioning, Roberts admitted to having consumed alcohol and drugs that evening, and told police he thought his uncle was coming at him at one point in an aggressive manner. Roberts admitted to punching Arsenault in the head, but it wasn’t clear how many times Roberts punched him.

The autopsy report, said Baxter, listed the cause of death as “blunt force injury to the head” that had caused small vessel bleeding in the head.