Jamie Morton

Jamie Morton is science reporter at the NZ Herald.

Police quizzed on death

Teacher Rosemary Ives was mistaken for a deer by a spotlighting hunter in 2010. Photo / Supplied
Teacher Rosemary Ives was mistaken for a deer by a spotlighting hunter in 2010. Photo / Supplied

The family of a school teacher killed by a hunter illegally spotlighting for animals have aired their concerns over the police handling of the investigation.

Family members questioned officials who yesterday gave evidence at the coronial inquest into the death of 25-year-old Rose Ives, who was fatally shot by Andrew Mears while camping with her partner in Kaimanawa Forest Park near Turangi in 2010.

Ms Ives' mother, Margaret McFarlane, asked Detective Sergeant Allan Humphries of Taupo why Mears was not breath-tested for alcohol until hours after the shooting.

She also asked why two others in Mears' hunting party - Brad Bennett and Ashley Wolland - were not separated and cautioned by police.

Mr Humphries said two police officers from Turangi initially responded, and their first priorities were to control the scene and seek first aid for Ms Ives.

"I'd say that was simply a resourcing thing ... they were called out from Turangi and there's only so much they can do."

Ms McFarlane said her family still could not understand why police charged Mears with manslaughter, resulting in a jail sentence of two years and six months, while his two companions with gun licences were only fined by the Department of Conservation for breaching permits forbidding them to hunt after dark.

Coroner Dr Wallace Bain asked Mr Humphries why the rest of the party had not been made more culpable. Mr Humphries said that was the Crown solicitor's directive.

Ms McFarlane and Ms Ives' brother, Tom, agreed the tragedy highlighted the need for a crackdown on illegal spotlighting, which is only allowed on public conservation land under special permission for pest control.

Twenty-three operations targeting illegal spotlighting in conservation areas around the Desert Rd and National Park highway had been carried out since the tragedy.

A large number had been carried out in Kaimanawa Forest Park, where DoC had received two complaints of spotlighting before Ms Ives was shot, and two since.

In other cases this year, a hunter was convicted and fined for illegally spotlighting near Opotiki, while another hunter allegedly fired a crossbow at a possum in a campsite where children were sleeping in Kaimai Mamaku Forest Park near Tauranga.

Tauranga Department of Conservation principal compliance officer Antoni Twyford told the court that without a "significant and sustained" joint agency compliance and education effort across the country, spotlighting in banned areas was likely to continue.

"While there is no question that the majority of recreational hunters do so safely and in accordance with the law, there remains a significant number of people who regard meat hunting as a traditional right."

Dr Bain reserved his decision, but indicated it would include his concerns about the practice of spotlighting and the difference in the way the four men were charged.

- NZ Herald

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