Accused: I didn't touch the trigger
An Otorohanga man accused of shooting another man through the cheek says he didn't have his finger on the trigger at the time.
Steven Robert Nicol, 32, has denied a charge of the attempted murder of Christopher Young on Cogswell Rd, Raglan on April 18, last year.
Through his lawyer Matthew Bates, Nicol has also denied an alternative charge of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.
Instead Nicol claims that Young shot himself after the pair struggled over a sawn-off .22 rifle in the front seat of a vehicle he had earlier stolen.
In the High Court in Hamilton on the second day of his trial today, Nicol said that after they arrived at Cogswell Rd, he had his head out the window as he reversed before hearing a clicking sound, which was the bolt of a gun.
"I spun around - I didn't spin around real fast ... and I've seen [the gun] coming up in my direction ... on sort of an upward angle," he said.
Nicol showed the jury how he says he spun to his left, getting the palm of his hand behind the gun to push it towards the front of the car.
Using both hands, he pushed the gun up as Young held it in his right hand, causing Young's arm to bend and Young to pull the trigger.
Nicol said he had been on the run from police for 10 days prior to the shooting.
He said that on April 7 he had arrived at his mother's Otorohanga house where he was staying and found police there executing a search warrant for a P-lab.
After a chat with police, Nicol said he decided to "take off", annoyed police would think he would make P at his parent's home.
After driving off, he swapped his car with a friend's but a couple of days later accidentally filled it with diesel. He then decided to steal the Holden Rodeo from a local "family who were quite well off".
Having lost his wallet along the way he had to live off the land, eating goat and mutton meat from animals he'd found while travelling in rural King Country and Otorohanga area.
He said he wanted to keep inconspicuous so decided to cut down the .22 rifle so that he could throw it out of the vehicle at any stage.
Nicol said Young was someone he'd met a couple of times. On the night of the shooting, a friend told him where to find Young and thought he might be keen to hang out.
"[He was] someone to kick with," Nicol said.
"I wanted to go for a joint. I had a bit of dope, I thought he might be interested in buying it."
Crown prosecutor Ross Douch asked why Nicol visited Young, when they had only met each other a couple of times before.
"Are you suggesting the real reason you went to visit Young, was that you were lonely?" Douch asked.
"Yep," Nicol replied.
"It's hard to believe when you saw him yesterday, but he's not always like that."
Oral and facial surgeon Angus Colquhoun told the court he couldn't confirm how far away the firearm was from Young's face when it was fired.
"It's very difficult to know," he said.
"[The bullet] entered just below the cheekbone, smack bang in the middle of the head ... I couldn't say," he said.
Colquhoun said the bullet had a trajectory of about 5 degrees above the the cheekbone.
As the bullet entered the face it bounced off the jaw, fracturing, before hitting the base of the skull then lodging behind the nose in an ear cavity and just under the mid-brain.
As the bullet was lodged in a remote area of the cheekbone, it was decided to leave it in place.
"It will probably do nothing there," he said.
"There's no real need to remove it."
However, the wound had the potential to be fatal, he said.
In questioning from Nicol's counsel Matthew Bates, Colquhoun was also unable to say what angle the firearm was facing when it was fired - upside down or upright.
The trial continues.