'A moment of stupidity': Community work after women shot

A Central Otago man who shot two women in a moment of stupidity while duck shooting has been sentenced to community work and ordered to pay reparation to the women.

William John Gunn (27), shearer of Shingle Creek, appeared for sentence before Judge Dominic Flatley in the Alexandra District Court today on a charge of careless use of a firearm, namely a shotgun, causing bodily injury to the women on May 2.

Gunn’s lawyer Kieran Tohill said his client had no previous convictions.

‘‘You can say he’s led an blameless life, he’s a farmer’s son and works in the shearing industry.’’

Gunn had offered to pay $1000 in reparation to each of the two women, Mr Tohill said.

He paid testament to Gunn’s good character and submitted his client should be considered for community work — something he already did.

‘‘He’s involved in every sort of community organisation you can be in in the Teviot Valley.

‘‘He’s salt of the earth in terms of his involvement in the community.’’

In sentencing, Judge Flatley said it did not make sense someone with Gunn’s level of community involvement would ‘‘act in this way’’,

‘‘I just don’t get it,’’ he said before outlining the facts of the case.

On the morning of May 2, the opening day of the duck shooting season, Gunn and a group of friends were duck shooting off a boat on the Clutha River near Butcher’s Point when they spotted some ducks and headed towards them causing them to take flight.

Gunn fired six shots from a 12 gauge shotgun but unbeknown to him the two women were walking on the track beside Lake Dunstan and they were partially obscured.

One was struck by shotgun pellets in the right leg and the other was hit in the right breast and collarbone area, Judge Flatley said.

The pair received moderate injuries.

The victims called out and lay on the ground to avoid being shot again.

Realising what had happened those on board the boat ‘‘took off in a panic’’ but later returned to check on the welfare of the women and apologise, he said.

He noted that when spoken to be police Gunn did not offer any explanation of why he and his party decided to hunt in this manner.

Turning to sentencing indications, Judge Flatley said there were not many similar cases he could find to consider for a starting point but those he could had carried a sentence of between 13 and 18 months’ jail.

Aggravating factors in the case were the fact Gunn was in breach of Fish & Game New Zealand council rules, he had fled the scene and did not present himself himself to police until after a media release about the incident was put out.

‘‘This just seems to be a lack of judgement on your part for whatever reason, a moment of stupidity,’’ he told Gunn.

However, given his high standing in the community a sentence of community work was appropriate, albeit at a high level to reflect the potential seriousness of the event, Judge Flatley said.

He sentenced Gunn to 300 hours community work with one year of supervision and ordered him to pay the $1000 he had offered to each to the two victims for emotional harm. 

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