Dad who shot daughter in head will 'forever regret' his actions, partner says

Gustav Otto Sanft at the High Court in Auckland on Thursday where he was sentenced.

Gustav Otto Sanft at the High Court in Auckland on Thursday where he was sentenced.

A man who killed his daughter by shooting her in the head will live with his actions for the rest of his life, the child's mother says.

"His punishment from now on, and since that day, was his daughter's death," Julia Daniels told the High Court in Auckland on Thursday.  

Gustav Otto Sanft was sentenced to four years and four months imprisonment for the June 2016 manslaughter of 2-year-old Amokura Daniels-Sanft. 

The sawn-off shotgun owned by Gustav Sanft which killed his daughter.

The sawn-off shotgun owned by Gustav Sanft which killed his daughter.

He was holding a gun when it fired, shattering her skull.

Day five: Expert - 'Gun was unsafe'
Day four: Police interview played
Day three: Police break down giving evidence
Day two: Family take the stand
Day one: Sanft trial starts

His sentence was handed down by Justice Geoffrey Venning, who slammed Sanft for not taking full responsibility for his daughter's death. 

Police at Sanft's property following the shooting.

Police at Sanft's property following the shooting.

Earlier, Julia Daniels, Sanft's partner and Amokura's mother, gave a moving victim impact statement, telling the court their daughter was their angel.

"I know Gustav will forever regret his actions that day, as we will too. We will always mourn the loss of our Amokura," she said. 

"Amokura is and always will be our little angel." 

Daniels pleaded with the court for Sanft to be spared a jail sentence. 

Ad Feedback

"I know people want to see Gustav punished for this accident, I see it everyday in him that he punishes himself," she said. 

"All I can ask is have mercy on Gustav. Our babies need their daddy at home, that is where he belongs."

Daniels' father, Phillip Daniels, said his relationship with Sanft had been strained leading up to his offending. 

"I was physically and emotionally distraught and in utter confusion in the circumstances of this tragic event which ended the short and beautiful life." 

Since Amokura's death, Phillip Daniels said a Maori reconciliation ritual had been completed forgiving Sanft for his actions. 

"I know Gustav will forever regret his actions that day, as we will too," he said. 

At trial, Sanft told the court his daughter was playing on a couch in the driveway prior to her death. He had been holding the gun, and was planning on throwing it away. 

Somehow, Sanft explained, the gun had "exploded" and the shot had hit Amokura. 

Justice Venning told the court on Thursday he did not buy the argument the gun had exploded, or that Sanft was planning on throwing away the gun. 

"Your denial you pulled the trigger is something you have latched onto, perhaps to help explain to yourself, and others, the terrible consequences of that morning," he said. 

Venning told Sanft he thought his remorse was a reflection of his own self pity. 


The day Amokura was killed, Sanft and his family were moving out of their Favona Rd property. 

In the morning, Julia Daniels left the property, in Mangere, while Sanft looked after their two children, which included Amokura. 

Sanft was holding the sawn-off shotgun when Amokura began to jump on a nearby couch which was in the driveway.

It was the Crown's case he aimed the gun at her and pulled the trigger to scare her. 

The defence argued the gun went off inadvertently, and Sanft had no idea it could work. 

Either way, Amokura was killed by a single shot which entered her head about the left eye, shattering her skull and killing her instantly. 

Her lifeless body ended up between the two couches she had been playing on. Sanft scooped up his daughter and held her until an ambulance officer later convinced him to put her down. 

At the time, police vehicles on their way to another incident were flagged down. Police found Sanft "walking around and wailing" holding his dead daughter. 

Police recalled following the shooting Sanft told them he had "pulled the trigger" and Amokura was "playing up". 

The gun had come into his possession after a friend had left it at his house. Sanft told the court at trial he intended to get rid of the gun on the day he shot his daughter. 

 - Stuff

Ad Feedback
special offers
Ad Feedback