Man admits causing hunting mate's death

When Rotorua man Henry Robert Worsp thought he saw a stag on September 7, he aimed for his target and shot at it.

He walked over to where his target was but didn't find the stag - instead he found his hunting partner and friend James Dodds.

Worsp tried to administer first aid, but Mr Dodds had died instantly.

Yesterday, Worsp appeared in the Rotorua District Court where he admitted causing the death of Mr Dodds during their deer hunting trip.

Worsp, 36, who appeared before Judge Phillip Cooper, had been charged with causing the death of James Dodds by careless use of a firearm, namely a .270 calibre Sako rifle.

Tauranga lawyer Paul Mabey, QC, entered a guilty plea to the charge on Worsp's behalf.

In court, Worsp was supported by his family and Mr Dodds' family, including Mr Dodds' partner Gabrielle Molloy.

Mr Dodds, 30, died while hunting near Waikite Valley.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Steve Coleman read out the police summary of facts while Worsp stood in the dock.

Mr Coleman said Worsp, an outdoor safety and emergency management consultant, and Mr Dodds, who was a well-known Rotorua adventure sports businessman, had gone hunting together early in the morning in the Paeroa Ranges and had became separated.

The separation of the hunters was not intentional but was due to the lay out of the land.

The pair had been told that fallow deer and fallow stags had been spotted in the area which they were expecting to see.

It was explained that fallow deer were much smaller than regular deer, about the size of a goat, and the stags had antlers like a moose.

Mr Dodds was wearing camouflage trousers and a black top.

The summary stated Worsp thought he was ahead of Mr Dodds and heard noises over his right shoulder which he assumed was his hunting companion.

It stated that while he was waiting for Mr Dodds to catch up, he saw something in front of him which he thought was a fallow stag.

He checked his target and also looked at it through the scope on his rifle.

He shot at his target.

As Worsp was confident he hit his target he walked over to it but was in no hurry.

When Worsp realised it was Mr Dodds, he tried to administer first aid but the report said Mr Dodds died instantly.

After climbing to a high point where he had cellphone coverage, Worsp phoned emergency services. He waited for police and from a helicopter pointed out the location of Mr Dodds' body.

Due to bad weather conditions and rugged terrain, Mr Dodds' body was not able to be removed until the following morning.

Police said when they examined the scene, a fern was overhanging Mr Dodds' body which Worsp could have mistaken for antlers.

The summary stated Mr Dodds was probably seated or crouching down which would have given the impression of a fallow deer or stag.

After the summary of facts was read out, Mr Mabey noted that Worsp had been accompanied to court by Mr Dodds' partner, and several members of Mr Dodds' family had written letters of support for him.

Judge Cooper remanded Worsp on bail.

He is expected to be sentenced on January 10.

- Anita Moran of The Daily Post

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