A man dubbed the "Sheriff of Ngawi" after he fired a shotgun at fleeing burglars is appealing against a decision to deny him a gun licence.
Garth Gadsby made headlines in 2006 when he fired the gun as he pursued a stolen car in which three young burglars were trying to escape the south Wairarapa village of Ngawi after trashing a number of houses.
The commercial fisherman later denied a charge of recklessly discharging a firearm but was found guilty in 2008 by a Wellington jury and fined $3000.
Despite having his gun licence revoked by police after the conviction, Gadsby continued to shoot in clay target competitions over the next 12 months, believing he could still use a firearm at a gun club as long as he was under the supervision of licensed gun holders.
That proved incorrect, meaning an application started last year was rejected, despite it meeting licensing criteria and despite Mr Gadsby being found "fit and proper" by the current area commander, Inspector Brent Register.
Mr Register said he supported Mr Gadsby's application because he had shown remorse for his 2006 actions, and a suitable period had lapsed since the revocation.
However, the decision ultimately rested with the Wellington district commander, then Inspector Richard Chambers, who had rejected the application.
A civil appeal is due to be heard at Masterton District Court next week, at which point a judge could over-rule the police decision, Mr Register said.
Mr Gadsby told The Dominion Post that he had done everything asked of him in the application.
"I was pretty upset about [being turned down] but you're fighting against bureaucracy, aren't you."
It had been a genuine mistake to think he could still shoot in competitions after his licence had been revoked, he said. "As soon as I was told that, I stopped totally."
He was still hopeful he would be granted the licence next week.
"I'm wanting to go over to America but I don't want to go until I've got my licence back.
"Over there I'd be a hero, but here I'm a convicted criminal," he joked.
After his trial, Mr Gadsby maintained he had acted rightly by protecting the community from the "scumbags" who broke into the houses.
He defended his actions by saying he was an experienced marksman and had tried to shoot out the car's tyres. He appealed against his conviction, but the appeal was turned down.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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