Safety catch changes mates' shooting trip

Last updated 05:00 13/06/2014

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An annual trip to rural Masterton for the first day of the duck-shooting season changed forever for a group of friends when one shot his mate.

In the Manukau District Court yesterday, Cameron Alexander Blyth King, 44, pleaded guilty to a charge of careless use of a firearm causing injury.

The 44-year-old victim, Guy Meech, suffered a gunshot wound to his elbow while hunting with a group in rural Bideford, north of Masterton, the court heard.

He and King had been friends since their primary school days in Hawke's Bay and, with a group of other old mates, got together on the same farm on the first day of duck-hunting season every year for the last 12.

On May 3, in a maimai King and Meech had their turn to shoot, lawyer Paul Borich said.

As they were retreating to let others take their place, they were alerted to more ducks and resumed their position. When the birds did not fly over, King prepared to put down his gun but forgot to engage the safety catch.

It discharged into Meech's arm and he was taken to Wellington Hospital by helicopter in a serious condition before undergoing surgery.

Although initially there were fears he might lose part of his arm, he was "progressing well" and was preparing to have a titanium plate inserted into it, Borich said.

The court heard the men had been drinking on the day, but Borich said it was at the "bottom end of the scale".

Since the incident, King - a father of three who lived in Papakura - had visited Meech and provided him with $1500 worth of items, including firewood and jackets.

"He's very sorry and he realises he should've done things better on the day," Borich said.

As a result, King had lost his firearms licence and indicated he was in no hurry to get it back.

Judge Peter Spiller declined to sentence King yesterday and adjourned for a reparations report. King will appear for sentencing next month.

Meech said he was recovering well, but declined to comment on King's guilty plea. Fairfax NZ

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