Dad killed child with un­safe gun

The Southland Times - - NEWS - TOMMY LIV­INGSTON

A fa­ther who fa­tally shot his daugh­ter in the head told first re­spon­ders she was ‘‘play­ing up’’ be­fore he killed her.

Gus­tav Otto Sanft, 26, is on trial for man­slaugh­ter af­ter he shot his 2-year-old daugh­ter Amokura Daniels-Sanft in June 2016 at their Man­gere, South Auck­land, home.

Crown pros­e­cu­tor Katie Ho­gan opened the trial in the High Court at Auck­land yes­ter­day by say­ing the case in­volved a ‘‘ter­ri­ble tragedy’’.

The court heard how Sanft and his part­ner, Ju­lia Daniels, were mov­ing home on the morn­ing their daugh­ter was killed. Daniels had left the Favona Rd prop­erty, while Sanft looked af­ter their two chil­dren, in­clud­ing Amokura, and two of Daniels’ chil­dren from a pre­vi­ous re­la­tion­ship.

Sanft was hold­ing the sawn-off shot­gun when Amokura be­gan to jump on a nearby couch which was in the drive­way. He al­legedly aimed the gun at her and pulled the trig­ger.

‘‘It seems the vic­tim was play­ing up, or jump­ing on one of the couches, and Mr Sanft be­came an­gry or frus­trated at her,’’ Ho­gan said.

‘‘He pointed the gun at her, per­haps only in­tend­ing to scare her, and pulled the trig­ger.’’

The pel­lets en­tered Amokura’s head above her left eye, shat­ter­ing her skull and killing her in­stantly.

Po­lice found Sanft ‘‘walk­ing around and wail­ing’’ hold­ing his dead daugh­ter, Ho­gan said.

‘‘He said: I pulled the trig­ger, she was just play­ing up, I f..... up. What have I done?’’

Ho­gan said Sanft told an am­bu­lance of­fi­cer: I don’t want your sym­pa­thy, I am a killer.

Ho­gan said one of Sanft’s chil­dren had said ‘‘Dad was an­gry’’ Amokura was jump­ing on the couches.

It is the Crown’s case Sanft did not in­tend to kill his daugh­ter, and that it was an ac­ci­dent. How­ever, they ar­gued that the firearm went off be­cause Sanft pulled the trig­ger.

He told po­lice fol­low­ing the death he did not be­lieve the gun was loaded, and in the past it had failed to work.

Sub­se­quent tests on the weapon had shown it failed to fire four out of 12 times, Ho­gan said.

It tended not to fire if the trig­ger was pulled softly, but when pres- sure was ap­plied the gun did dis­charge, she said.

Ac­cord­ing to Ho­gan, two of Sanft’s chil­dren’s had found the gun, which was not kept locked up, the day be­fore the fa­tal shoot­ing.

Sanft’s lawyer, Phil Ham­lin, told the jury his client did not pull the trig­ger, but was hold­ing the gun when it went off.

‘‘The shot­gun fired without him hav­ing pulled the trig­ger. Re­gret­tably at the time the shot­gun fired, Mr Sanft’s daugh­ter was only a me­tre or so from him.’’

Ham­lin told the court the gun was un­safe, and the blame did not lie at his client’s feet.

Sanft was plan­ning on dis­pos­ing the gun that morn­ing as he thought it did not work, Ham­lin said. But be­fore he could, the gun dis­charged.

A friend of Sanft’s, who was at the ad­dress when the shot was fired, gave emo­tional ev­i­dence about the mo­ments be­fore and af­ter Amokura died.

Anna Leao and her part­ner Jimmy Tikoina­maka were at Sanft’s house to help with the move on the morn­ing of June 2.

Leao was good friends with Sanft and Daniels, and their kids called her ‘‘aunty’’.

She had her back to the couches when she heard the gun go off.

‘‘I slowly turned my­self around. [Sanft] was go­ing to­wards the couches. That is when I re­alised that Amo had died.’’

When ques­tioned by Ham­lin about the mo­ments lead­ing up to the shoot­ing, Leao said Sanft was calm.

Along with the man­slaugh­ter charge, Sanft was also charged with un­law­ful pos­ses­sion of a pis­tol, to which he pleaded guilty.

He sat in the dock, of­ten weep­ing, as Leao gave ev­i­dence.

The trial is set down for three weeks.

Gus­tav Sanft in court.

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