Arrest over forestry death 'a surprise'

JONO GALUSZKA
Last updated 12:34 04/09/2014

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The Horowhenua man accused of killing a man in a forestry incident was arrested after going to police to give evidence for a coronial inquest.

Foxton man Paul Robert Burr, 46, made no plea when he appeared in the Levin District Court today charged with manslaughter.

He faces the charge after Lincoln Kidd, 20, was crushed by a falling pine tree while working with others on a forestry block between Levin and Foxton in December last year.

Kidd and his colleagues were working on the ground cutting limbs off a tree when he was struck.

It is alleged Burr caused the death of Kidd by failing to take reasonable precautions to avoid danger while operating a tree-felling mechanical harvester.

The charge has been laid under multiple sections of the Crimes Act, including those covering culpable homicide by not observing a legal duty, and using something dangerous without taking reasonable steps to avoid danger to people.

He also faces charges laid by WorkSafe New Zealand in relation to the incident.

Defence lawyer Kelvin Campbell, appearing on instructions from Burr's lawyer, Jonathan Temm, said Burr had gone to police yesterday to give evidence for a coronial inquest into Kidd's death.

Burr was then arrested and charged with manslaughter.

"t came as a surprise," Campbell said.

Police and Campbell opposed all media applications for in-court cameras, but Judge Jennifer Binns granted them.

The high public interest, desirability for open justice and the interest of Kidd's family outweighed Campbell's submissions that Burr was highly stressed and needed time to talk to family, she said.

Campbell also applied for interim name suppression, saying Burr needed time to contact family in Australia and Invercargill. He had been suffering from stress since the incident. Being named would magnify that.

Police did not oppose the application, although a victim's adviser told the court Kidd's family wanted Burr named.

Judge Binns said Campbell had not advanced a strong enough case for interim name suppression.

While the circumstances around the charges were stressful, there was no evidence that being named would cause extreme hardship.

That Burr's name was already in the public arena in relation to the WorkSafe NZ charges also played a part in not granting suppression, she said.

"I suggest you contact your family members as soon as you leave court."

Burr was remanded on bail until a High Court appearance this month.

Lincoln Kidd's mother, Lesley Kidd, said the manslaughter charge would make both the forestry sector and other industries realise the responsibility for employee safety lay with everyone.

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All parts of the forestry sector, including landowners, needed to be held to account for incidents like her son's death, she said.

- Manawatu Standard

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