15 Mar 2013

Deerstalker tells inquest of friend's fatal shooting

9:44 pm on 15 March 2013

An inquest has heard how a deerstalker believed he had shot a deer when he had actually shot and killed his hunting companion.

James Dodds was shot by Henry Worsp while they were hunting in Waikite Valley, in the Paeroa Ranges 30 kilometres south of Rotorua last September.

In January this year, Worsp was sentenced to six months home detention and 250 hours community work for carelessly using a firearm causing the death of Mr Dodds.

The inquest in Rotorua heard how the pair became separated prior because of the lay of the land.

Worsp told the inquest he doesn't believe increasing punishments would bring change because hunters aren't thinking about shooting being an offence when they're about to shoot.

He also said it was important for hunters not to be blase about wrongly identifying a target; he said they should also not split up from their hunting companion.

Worsp told the inquest he believed the big issue was real risk versus perceived risk.

He said he was aware of the risk of shooting someone but never expected it would happen to him.

Worsp also told the inquest he saw very clearly a deer's head come up to have a look around and then look back down again.

The manager of the police Licensing and Vetting Service Centre, Inspector Joseph Green, said hunts should stop when companions lose sight of one another.

Mr Dodds' partner, Gabby Molloy, told the coroner if the hunter's companion can't be seen clearly, then a shot shouldn't be taken.

Outside the court, Ms Molloy said target identification was possibly not enough.

"Stopping splitting up or preventing the shot being actually taken when you're unsure of where your partner is is possibly the most important thing to me, personally."

Coroner Dr Wallace Bain has reserved his findings.