Rifle held at head in family dispute

Last updated 13:01 16/07/2014

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A Reefton woman is fearful about the eventual release from custody of her husband, horse trainer Geoffrey Raymond Collis, who held a rifle to her temple in a domestic dispute four months ago.

Collis, 63, was jailed for 13 months in the Christchurch District Court today after admitting charges of threatening to kill his wife and unlawfully presenting a firearm.

The charges arose from an incident at the couple’s Reefton home in March, when Collis’ wife told him she considered the marriage was over.

When she declined to move some horses from a paddock as he demanded, Collis went to another room and got a bolt action rifle, which he then held to his wife’s head.

“This is how it will work. I’ll show you,” he said.

Defence counsel Craig Fletcher told the court the weapon was not loaded, but the wife did not know that and feared for her safety.

Collis said he hoped she would call police and they might shoot him.

The woman left the house and called the police. They arrested Collis who has been in custody or in Hillmorton Hospital ever since. He is diagnosed as having a major depressive disorder, but was found to be well enough to plead if the case had gone to trial. He pleaded guilty.

Fletcher told the sentencing that Collis remained in mental health care and was unlikely to be released before Christmas at the earliest.

That time frame is about in line with the 13-month jail term imposed by Judge David Saunders.

The judge said Collis’ wife was apprehensive. “She still fears something may occur when you are released from custody.”

He then imposed special conditions relating to the release, which will apply for six months afterwards.

Collis must not contact the woman without prior written approval. He must live at an approved address, and not go to Reefton without prior approval. With his consent, he must continue taking medication for his depression, and consult with the mental health services about his treatment for depression and anxiety. He must take assessment, treatment, or counselling as required.

The judge said a temporary protection order taken out by Collis’ wife should be made permanent.

He ordered the destruction of the firearm.

Collis’ actions had been a danger to the victim and had caused some psychological harm, he said. “This was more than just an idle threat.”

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