Discharge sought over threat to kill

A woman who threatened a police officer with an air gun shed tears after sentencing.

The woman, who was granted final name suppression, appeared in the Dunedin District Court yesterday seeking a discharge without conviction.

Counsel Karlena Lawson submitted that the circumstances and context of the offending meant her client’s culpability was lower.

Her client "suffered significantly” from anxiety and depression, she said.

The defendant had earlier admitted charges of threatening to kill and presenting a firearm on September 16 last year.

Judge Josephine Bouchier accepted the defendant "was in one of the worst mental states she’s ever been in” when police responded to an attempted suicide call that night.

Court documents revealed she said she had a gun, had slashed her wrists and was going to shoot everybody who had wronged her.

While trying to negotiate with the woman, police heard her say she would shoot anybody who came into the address, and then the police.

Without warning, the woman approached the front door with an air gun raised at one of the police officers.

She was subsequently tasered and taken to Dunedin Hospital for medical attention and psychological assessment.

The court heard she said she had "wished to die at the hands of ‘suicide by cop'".

Judge Bouchier acknowledged the defendant suffered significantly from mental health issues, but was of the view the seriousness of the offending outweighed the consequences of a conviction.

There was at least at some premeditation and the use of lethal force by police had been a real possibility in the moment, she said.

"Currently happening across the country right now is a significant amount of firearm crime ... a police officer of 46 years recently saying he hoped to retire without getting shot”.

While the gun had been broken, "that could not be known by anyone who was facing it”, the judge told the defendant.

If lethal force had been used, there would have been significant trauma for the officers involved, she said.

She declined to grant a discharge, and the defendant was convicted and given a 12-month deferred sentence.

-- TINA GRUMBALL, Court Reporter



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