26 Jul 2017

Sanft trial: Accused's friend says gun was broken

5:33 pm on 26 July 2017

A life-long friend of the father accused of shooting his daughter with a shotgun says he tried to fire the gun up to six times into the ground but the gun wouldn't fire.

The shotgun Gustav Sanft allegedly pointed at his daughter Amokura Daniels-Sanft.

The shotgun Gustav Sanft allegedly pointed at his daughter Amokura Daniels-Sanft. Photo: RNZ

Singalu Eli gave evidence in defence of his old friend Gustav Sanft at the High Court in Auckland today.

Mr Sanft has denied a charge of manslaughter, relating to the death of his 2-year-old daughter Amokura Daniels-Sanft.

Mr Eli told the court he had heard talk that Mr Sanft had a gun.

He said he used to visit Mr Sanft's home in Mangere about twice a week. One day he was over at Mr Sanft's place with his cousin, Sione Malafu, but Mr Sanft was not around.

His evidence was interrupted by this warning from Justice Venning:

"I should ... warn you that it is an offence to hold and deal with a firearm if you do not hold a firearms licence. There may be questions asked of you which could incriminate you potentially in such an offence and you do not have to answer such questions."

Mr Eli went on to answer all the questions put to him.

He said he found the gun on a shelf, inside the hot water cupboard and took it outside.

"I tried to shoot it five to six times towards the ground and it didn't work."

He said he opened the gun and checked that it was loaded, and even tried other shells, but the gun wouldn't fire.

"Later on that day I came back and I told him it was broken, excuse my ... language but it was broken, it was s***."

The evidence is important because part of Mr Sanft's defence is that he believed the gun was not a threat because it didn't work.

Under cross-examination from the Crown prosecutor Katie Hogan, Mr Eli confirmed he didn't have a firearms licence.

The court also heard from Mr Eli's cousin, Sione Malafu, who confirmed he was there during the testing but denied talking to Mr Sanft afterwards.

Later, a neighbour of Mr Sanft's told the court she had a loud argument with her partner on the day of the shooting.

Her evidence is important because previously a Crown witness told the court she heard a loud argument and swearing coming from Mr Sanft's home shortly before the shot was fired.

Ms Masame confirmed under cross-examination that her partner had been a long-term friend of Mr Sanft and that she had come to court to help him today.

The Crown's case is that Mr Sanft was angry when he held the shotgun and accidentally shot Amokura Daniels-Sanft. The defence case is that the gun went off without him pulling the trigger.

Tomorrow the jurors will hear closing arguments from the Crown and defence lawyers, before Justice Venning sums up the case and they retire to consider their verdicts

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