Dead man's family feel let down by coroner

NEIL RATLEY
Last updated 05:00 13/08/2014
Adam Hill's family

LIVES RIPPED APART: Adam Hill’s mother Barb Herrick and his fiancee Christine Pink are pushing for tougher sentences for hunting deaths. Hill was shot and killed by Tuatapere man Wayne Edgerton after being mistaken for a deer.

Adam Hill
PROUD DAD: Adam Hill, pictured with daughter Maikayla, 4, had moved into a farmhouse with his family a year before being fatally shot while hunting.

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The father of slain Southland hunter Adam Hill says a coroner's decision not to open an inquiry into his son's death rounds out the injustice for Adam's family and friends.

Adam's father Dave Hill said he was "totally disheartened" with the whole outcome of the court case following his son's death.

Adam Hill, a 25-year-old farmer, was hunting in Longwood Forest in April when Tuatapere man Wayne Edgerton mistook him for a deer and shot him in the chest.

Edgerton, who was not a member of Hill's party, admitted causing death by careless use of a firearm in the Invercargill District Court in June.

Coroner Sue Johnson said the causes and circumstances surrounding Hill's death had been dealt with by the court and she felt no need to open an inquiry.

Firearm safety recommendations in the New Zealand Police Arms Code were sufficient and she had no further recommendations to make, the coroner said.

Dave Hill said he hoped it would not take words or the lack of words from a coroner to push for better hunting practices and harsher penalties for hunters who killed other hunters. After Edgerton was convicted and sentenced to seven months' home detention, community work and ordered to pay $10,000 reparation, the Hill family said they felt like they had "been kicked in the teeth" by the justice system.

They have since launched a petition calling for mandatory jail sentences for hunters who killed someone.

The petition is still circulating and will be sent to Parliament.

At the sentencing in June, Judge Michael Turner said Edgerton had "ample time" to properly identify Hill before firing. "This raises the possibility that your desire to shoot a deer overwhelmed your need for safety," Turner said. "Your level of carelessness was at the highest end of the scale."

Edgerton told police he mistook Hill for a red deer's hindquarters.

ARMS CODE

Rule 4: Identify your target beyond all doubt. You must positively identify your target beyond all doubt before firing. If in doubt, don't shoot. The shooter, and anyone supervising an unlicensed shooter, must both positively identify the target.

Identify all of the animal:

Do not fire at movement only
Do not fire at colour only
Do not fire at sound only
Do not fire at shape only

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