Call for Law Com­mis­sion to re­view rules ‘ur­gently’

South Waikato News - - NEWS -

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.

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