On the steps of the Invercargill District Court, Adam Hill's mother, Barbara Herrick, held back tears as she questioned the sentence handed down to the man who took her son's life.
Tuatapere man Wayne Edgerton was sentenced yesterday by Judge Michael Turner to seven months' home detention, 400 hours' community work and ordered to pay $10,000 emotional harm reparation after he admitted carelessly using a 30.06 rifle causing Adam Hill's death on April 13.
The court was told Adam and his hunting companion left a camp in the Longwoods on the morning of April 13, both wearing fluoro hunting vests.
Edgerton, an experienced hunter, was with a different hunting party. Hearing several roars, Edgerton had walked toward them and saw, both with the naked eye and through a scope, what he believed to be a deer.
He checked the target again with his naked eye, raised his rifle, and fired.
The shot hit Adam in the chest. It was fired from about 41 metres away.
Edgerton accepted he had not correctly identified his target and had been careless.
Edgerton had been involved in various community activities, as well as search and rescues, and had been part of a campaign highlighting hunting safety, Judge Turner said.
"Against this background, it is inexplicable as to why you would discharge your rifle at a target which had not been clearly identified."
Edgerton's lawyer Richard Smith said his client was "well aware" of the harm he had caused.
". . . he wishes every day that he could take back what has happened".
When the victim's family were ready he wanted to meet with them to apologise face to face.
He thought about the incident every day and was "definitely and absolutely remorseful," he said.
The sentence was met with disgust from Hill's family, many of whom packed the courtroom wearing orange fluoro clothing, the kind Hill was wearing the day he died.
"There is no justice for Adam," his mother said.
"How can you kill a man and get seven months in your house . . . It's not going to affect his life at all. He still has his wife, he still has his kids. He has got his son. We don't have ours."
Adam's father, Dave Hill, said he was "gutted" by the sentence but it was time to let his son rest.
"I absolutely just can't believe it. It seems Adam's death has counted for nothing. I'm absolutely gutted.
"Now it's time for me to let Adam rest. I'm closing the book."
The sentence would not be a deterrent to others, he said, a sentiment cousin Steve Sycamore, who was with Hill when he died, agreed with.
"It's just f...... bullshit," he said.
"This won't deter other hunters from being 100 per cent sure of their target. Not when you can get away with it," he said.
Hill's uncle Rex Sycamore, a long-time hunter, said hunters should be accountable for their actions and face a mandatory manslaughter charge if they took someone's life.
"Maybe that will make a hunter think twice before pulling the trigger," he said.
Edgerton looked down through much of the sentencing.
He declined to comment after the sentencing.
Victim impact statements read in court told of a young life ripped away from his loved ones.
Adam's fiancee, Christine Pink, sobbed as her victim impact statement was read out.
"Mr Edgerton, you've taken from us more than you can imagine.
"This man, out of anyone, should have known better."
The couple's young daughters looked outside at night searching for the brightest star to say goodnight to their father, a father who would not be there for their birthdays or life achievements, the court was told.
Adam's mother told the court her family was "broken" and would never be the same.
"In our opinion, you stupidly killed our son . . . we hope the words you have heard from our family today have burned into the front of your mind."
- The Southland Times
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