Hunter who shot friend avoids prison

JOSH FAGAN
Last updated 20:28 31/07/2014

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A man who accidentally shot his friend while they were duck hunting has avoided prison and been placed on community detention.

Cameron Alexander Blyth King, 44, of Auckland, "broke all the rules" of firearm safety when he pulled the trigger of his loaded gun, hitting his friend Guy Meech in the elbow, the Manukau District Court heard.

The pair had been shooting ducks in Masterton on May 3 this year when King fired the gun, causing serious injuries to Meech, who can now only lift 1kg of weight with his injured arm.

King was tonight sentenced to 200 hours of community work and placed on six-months of community detention, including a curfew forcing him to stay home between 8pm and 6am. He was also ordered to pay $3000 in reparation.

The court was told Meech has suffered ongoing physical and emotional trauma, and was unable to work as a result.

Judge Charles Blackie said it was fortunate that the shooting didn't end in a fatality but said the injuries were still serious and were entirely avoidable.

"How this gun went off is inexplicable," he said.

"But it wouldn't have happened if the most basic cautionary steps were taken."

The court was told King had been standing behind Meech in a small "maimai" shooting platform and had been drinking beer before he moved forward with his finger inside the trigger guard of his shotgun. 

King's finger then came down on the loaded weapon and the pellets hit Meech in the elbow.

Police prosecutor sergeant Michael Tuialii said King's carelessness had broken all the rules relating to the use of firearms. He said King failed to point the gun in a safe direction, did not have the safety catch on, was holding it at waist height, had the weapon loaded and had his hand on the trigger.

"Coupled with the fact he was consuming alcohol and was in an enclosed space, this is a high level of carelessness," he said.

The maximum penalty for careless use of a firearm causing injury is three years prison, and Tuialii argued that a one-year custodial sentence was warranted in this case, to deter others.

Defence lawyer Paul Borich said King - a father of three - was a low risk of re-offending and would be best suited to serving community work. He said King was an experienced shooter and he had only drunk one beer before the incident.

His client and Meech had been friends since they were at Primary School and had been shooting together many times, including over five years in that same location.

There was no element of "skylarking" and if King had shown a higher degree of care the incident would have been avoided altogether, Borich said.

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He said King had already given Meech about $1500 worth of firewood, jackets and food, to aid with his recovery.

"Once this (sentencing) is completed he's going to try and make good with his friend."

King's firearm licence was suspended and Borich said it "will be a long time before he picks up a gun again".

- Stuff

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