Call for Law Commission to review rules ‘urgently’
TOUGHER laws for hunters who accidently shoot people is a great move – but only if juries have the guts to convict, the father of an English exchange student shot in the head says.
Coroner Wallace Bain made recommendations, including manslaughter as an automatic charge, to reduce the number of hunting deaths.
He called on the Law Commission and the Government to ‘‘urgently investigate’’ the rules and regulations applying to hunting deaths and suggested manslaughter as the go- to charge for a hunter who shot and killed a person.
The suggestions struck a chord with Englishman Ian Purchase, whose son Matthew was shot at point blank range in the back of the head while rabbit hunting near Putaruru in 2007.
He survived but has had a long road to recovery.
A jury later found Danish tourist Bjarne Jensen, 48, not guilty of a charge of careless use of a firearm causing injury.
Mr Purchase welcomed the tougher laws Mr Bain wanted to implement – including making others in the hunting party just as culpable.
But he said tougher laws were no good unless juries were willing to convict.
‘‘In my son’s case the person accused of his injury was the only person standing behind him in the back of a vehicle and police ballistic and forensic tests matched the bullet removed from my son’s head to the rifle he was using,’’ he said.
‘‘ Nevertheless the court failed to find him guilty of careless use of a firearm. As a person who has hunted all my life it is hard to understand any situation where a person shouldn’t be considered guilty of being careless if he has accidentally shot another person.’’
Mr Purchase said failure to identify a target properly, or failing to ensure you had a clear line of fire, should never be an excuse.
‘‘Too many people are being killed or, in my son’s case, suffering horrific injuries that will be with them for the rest of their lives. Something must change.’’
The coroner made the suggestions after an inquest into the death of Lower Hutt schoolteacher Rosemary Ives, who was accidentally shot by a Hamilton man who was illegally spotlighting with a group of friends. Fairfax NZ
TOUGHER LAWS WELCOMED: Matthew Purchase, pictured, who was shot at point blank range in the back of his head while rabbit hunting, was lucky to survive the terrible tragedy. Matthew’s father, Ian Purchase welcomes tougher gun control laws to prevent this type of incident happening again.