Sheriff of Ngawi gun-toting once more
A man dubbed the "Sheriff of Ngawi" after he fired a shotgun at fleeing burglars has been given back his gun licence after a judge found it was unlawfully revoked.
Garth Gadsby was handed back the licence by police during a civil appeal hearing at Masterton District Court today.
Judge Chris Tuohy ruled the police decision to revoke his licence in 2008 breached rules of natural justice, and was therefore unlawful.
As the licence remained valid until 2015, it was simply given back rather than having Mr Gadsby reapply for a new one.
The commercial fisherman made headlines in 2006 when he fired at a stolen car in which three young burglars were trying to escape the south Wairarapa village of Ngawi after trashing a number of houses.
He later denied a charge of recklessly discharging a firearm but was found guilty in 2008 by a Wellington jury and fined $3000.
Today Judge Tuohy described how on on December 24, 2008 Inspector John Johnston sent a letter to Mr Gadsby stating he was considering revoking his gun licence.
But in the same envelope was another letter stating the licence had already been revoked, with a further letter of revocation following two months later.
As such, Mr Gadsby was not allowed a right of reply and therefore his rights of natural justice had been breached, he said.
''If the two letters were both defective... then that means that that licence has never been revoked so all that has happened is irrelevant,'' Judge Tuohy said.
He then reversed the revocation, giving Mr Gadsby back his licence.
Outside court Mr Gadsby called it a ''fabulous result''.
''It's been a long process and a bit of a hassle.
''I'd like to forget the whole thing.''
He would now apply for a visa to travel to the United States with his wife, he said.
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 told The Dominion Post 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.
Judge Tuohy did not refer to that decision today, hearing only the first part of the appeal from Mr Gadsby's lawyer, which dealt with the original revocation.
After his 2006 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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