Norsewood gunman jailed

02:10, Dec 14 2010
David Bourke
David Bourke.

Gunman David Bourke, who successfully used the provocation defence to beat a murder charge, will spend two years and 10 months behind bars.

The 48-year-old freezing worker was sentenced in the High Court at Palmerston North this morning for the manslaughter of his brother Timothy Bourke, 49, in Whanganui on October 4 last year.

During a two week trial last month, a jury agreed with Bourke's argument that he shot his suicidal brother because Timothy's relentless pleas for death had become so difficult to bear that David lost control.

Bourke shot his brother three times with a .22 rifle at the Gordon Park Scenic Reserve then drove across the lower North Island with the body in his car.

When he crashed his car north of Dannevirke and took off, with shotgun in hand, it sparked a two-day armed police manhunt and forced terrified locals to lock themselves in their homes.

He was eventually found in a toilet block at the Norsewood and Districts Golf Club, where he pointed a gun at police and fought with them in an attempt to commit suicide.

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Bourke's sentence also took into account another eight charges relating to his two days on the run.

Before his murder trial began, he had already pleaded guilty to three counts of aggravated assault, two of using a firearm against police and one each of assault with a cutting or stabbing weapon, dangerous driving and refusing to accompany police officers.

During his trial, Bourke was also found not guilty of wounding with intent, relating to Norsewood farm worker Chad Hinga, who he shot in the shoulder while on the run.

The provocation defence was abolished in December 2009, following the trial of 33-year-old university tutor Clayton Weatherston, who stabbed girlfriend Sophie Elliott to death in her Dunedin home, then claimed she had provoked him into doing so.

The Dominion Post