A volunteer fire chief has stood down amid allegations that he fired a shotgun out of a moving vehicle and sent an offensive text message.
Brent John Dickson, 41, a builder, has denied the allegations, saying he was out possum hunting at the time and was well over 100 metres from the house of the complainant.
He pleaded not guilty to charges of discharging a firearm near a dwelling, and offensive use of a phone, when he appeared in Masterton District Court yesterday.
He has vowed to fight the charges, but in the meantime has stepped down from his role as Eketahuna volunteer fire brigade chief.
It is alleged Dickson was in a vehicle that drove to an Eketahuna house after midnight on September 8, and that he had been at a pub in town earlier.
Shots were fired from the car and the shells were later recovered.
The incident happened after Dickson allegedly sent an offensive text message to someone connected with those living at the house.
Yesterday, Dickson, who became fire chief in 2007, told The Dominion Post he was no longer a fireman and would probably never be one again if he was found guilty. But he strongly denied the charges, saying he was out possum hunting on a country road, well away from any houses.
He said a shotgun was the safest method of hunting possums.
Acting fire chief Max Mayer - Dickson's former deputy - said Dickson had stood down on his own accord before the charges were laid.
"Like all of us he takes his fire service seriously. He's a really good fireman, a brilliant firefighter, and he does what he does for the good of the community."
News of the charges was widely known around Eketahuna, Mr Mayer said. "It's a small town and people talk, but some people have maybe been opening their mouths when they shouldn't. My personal opinion is this will just blow over."
Dickson's lawyer, Jock Blathwayt, said in court yesterday that the complainant had "incurred the wrath of a number of people" in the town.
Dickson was bailed to reappear in court next month.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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