Fernside farmer appeals conviction

21:27, Dec 17 2012

A Fernside farmer has been bound to keep the peace in a dispute with his neighbour, but he filed High Court appeal papers within minutes of his sentencing.

Rodger William O'Byrne, 61, had been convicted at the end of a judge-alone trial of threatening to kill his neighbour, and discharging a shotgun near his neighbour's home without reasonable cause, to annoy or frighten him.

He was remanded on bail for sentencing today by Christchurch District Court Judge Jackie Moran.

Defence counsel Mark Callaghan had asked the judge not to enter convictions when she delivered her reserved decision on the trial so that O'Byrne could apply for a discharge without conviction which would allow him to keep using firearms for pest control on the farm.

The discharge application did not go ahead today, and instead Callaghan has filed papers in the High Court to appeal against O'Byrne's conviction and sentence.

Judge Moran fined him $500 on each charge, and ordered him to make a $1500 emotional harm reparation payment to the neighbour.


She bound him to keep the peace for a year, with a bond of $5000 at stake if he fails to do so.

The trial concerned a fence-line confrontation with O'Byrne's neighbour of 14 years. There has been conflict between O'Byrne and the neighbouring family - which lives on a four-hectare lifestyle block - for about four years.

The neighbour said O'Byrne had fired a shot in his direction, close to his body, with the obvious intention of frightening him, and then said: "Come over here and I'll kill you." O'Byrne denied saying those words.

In 2008, O'Byrne defended three charges relating to firing a rifle at fishermen on his property at the Cust River. The jury acquitted him on two charges and the third charge was eventually dropped by the Crown.

The Press