Partner shot dead in photoshoot

01:06, Feb 23 2010

A man who accidentally shot dead his girlfriend with a sawn-off shotgun last year may avoid imprisonment.

Justin Paul Goldstone, 21, admitted the manslaughter of his partner of six months, Samantha Joanne Henderson, 20, when he appeared in North Shore District Court today.

He also pleaded guilty to the unlawful possession of a cut-down shotgun and was remanded on bail by Judge David McNaughton to be sentenced in the High Court in Auckland in May.

Judge McNaughton also ordered a probation report with sentencing options, including home detention or community detention, also to be explored. The maximum sentence for manslaughter is life in prison but there is no minimum.

Ms Henderson died on December 4 last year as Goldstone posed for a series of pictures with a sawn-off shotgun which police said he had acquired for their protection.

She had asked him to pose after he got the loaded shotgun from an attic space where it had been stored.

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Ms Henderson took several pictures with her digital camera, showing Goldstone with his finger resting on the trigger as he pointed the shotgun at the camera.

The shotgun discharged and the blast hit Ms Henderson in the head with shotgun pellets going through the camera.

The blast caused "massive trauma to the left side of her head,"' said police in the summary of facts.

Goldstone dropped the shotgun and went to her aid, but Ms Henderson was unresponsive.

He put her in his car and took her to a medical centre but refused to give a statement to police for three days.

He said he believed his finger was outside the trigger guard and not resting on the trigger.

Goldstone and his supporters refused to speak outside court but soon after the shooting last December relatives said it was accidental.

NZPA