9 Nov 2010

Man who shot brother convicted of manslaughter

8:45 pm on 9 November 2010

A jury has accepted the argument that a Whanganui man was provoked into fatally shooting his older brother and found him not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter.

David Bourke, 48, has been on trial in the High Court at Palmerston North since Monday 1 November for killing Timothy Bourke at Gordon's Bush in Whanganui just over a year ago.

One of the defence lawyers, Mike Antunovich, says the verdict is a victory for common sense.

The defence had conceded that the shooting was deliberate but argued that after months of being provoked by his brother to end his life Bourke suddenly lost control. It said he was guilty of manslaughter, not murder.

The Crown told the jury that the night before the fatal shooting Bourke agreed to a request from his brother to end his life and that therefore he was guilty of murder.

A change in the law last November means provocation can no longer be used as a defence for murder but Mr Antunovich says he and other defence lawyers were against that change. There's room in New Zealand law for a defence of provocation, he says.

The jury also found Bourke not guilty of causing grievous bodily harm to a farm worker shot the same day as the killing.

Justice France remanded Bourke in custody for sentencing next month.