Former councillor Hayden Evans takes cops to court

By Michele McPherson


Former controversial Tauranga City councillor Hayden Evans has taken police to court to get his confiscated guns and firearms licence back.

Mr Evans, who now lives in Australia, had his firearms licence revoked and surrendered three weapons - a semi-automatic AK-47 replica rifle, a .22 rifle and a shotgun - to Western Bay of Plenty Area Commander Mike Clement in 2009.

Two years on, that decision is being reviewed by Judge Robert Wolff, and Mr Evans' suitability to hold a licence is being re-considered.

Mr Evans represented himself in court, and evidence was given in person by Tauranga Mayor Stuart Crosby, Western Bay of Plenty Area Commander Inspector Mike Clement and on-duty police officer and former neighbour of Mr Evans, Constable Dean Wise.

Also summonsed to the witness box were Mr Evans' former girlfriend, who has interim name suppression, another neighbour and Mr Evans' friend and accountant, Ian Stevenson.

Mr Clement told the court he asked Mr Evans to come to his office at Tauranga Police Station to discuss his firearms licence on July 21, 2009.

During the meeting, when Mr Clement revoked the licence, he said Mr Evans experienced extreme mood swings. "I quite sincerely thought he was unwell and expressed that."

The pair discussed a phone conversation between Mr Evans and his former partner, during which she claims he threatened to shoot himself. "You said that you had a gun pointed at your head and that if I don't come over to your place you would pull the trigger," she told the court yesterday.

Mr Evans' former partner visited him the following day, when he handed over two firing pins and a firearm. He told the court he did this to ease her concerns.

The former partner also raised an incident in which Mr Evans went shooting on his property, despite her concerns she could hear children playing nearby.

Mr Evans said he could not recall the incident but had it occurred, he would have heeded her warning.

In revoking the licence Mr Clement said he also took into account a statement from Tauranga City Council monitoring manager John Payne, who claimed when he visited Mr Evans' rural Ohauiti block the former councillor talked about being armed.

The discussion related to negotiations dating back to 2005, in which council was seeking to secure a pipeline route across Mr Evans' land.

However, he admits only to saying "you'll be coming on my property over my dead body".

When questioned by Mr Evans about why Mr Clement did not interview any of his closest friends, his mother, or those he spent most of his life with, Mr Clement replied: "Because I had reached the conclusion that you weren't a fit and proper person [under the Firearms Act]. We [police] spoke with a range of people who were in your life. Sometimes that extends to one person if the information available through speaking to one person is sufficient."

In the following days Mr Evans followed Mr Clement's advice and saw a doctor. A nurse's comment from the visit states he said he was having suicidal thoughts but would not act on them.

Mr Crosby said he "agonised" for days over whether to go to police.

He said there was general concern among all city councillors about Mr Evans' demeanour.

When Mr Evans pointed out Mr Crosby had no psychological training, the mayor agreed. "I'm a very good observer of people, I've been doing it all my life," he said.

Lawyer Greg Hollister-Jones said Mr Evans taped councillors without their knowledge about six weeks before the licence was revoked - an example of how Mr Evans behaved under pressure. "When you get frustrated, you can't be trusted to keep to the rules," he said.

Judge Wolff gave the respondents seven days to have their submissions filed and served on Mr Evans, who has 28 days to respond. Judge Wolff will then make his ruling on the case.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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