Bevan Hurley

Bevan Hurley is the Herald on Sunday chief reporter.

Father angry over shooting

Patrick Brass, shot dead in a hunting accident. Photo / Supplied
Patrick Brass, shot dead in a hunting accident. Photo / Supplied

The father of a young boy who was shot dead in a hunting accident has told of his grief and anger at the senseless killing.

Patrick Brass had just celebrated his 10th birthday and was excited about a holiday on the remote East Coast farm Te Kumi Station.

But the day after he arrived, Brass was shot in the head, the bullet coming from a high-powered hunting rifle.

Police investigations continue into the circumstances of the shooting, but family have been told that Patrick and two cousins picked up a .270 gun while an uncle was shearing on an adjacent property.

Patrick's father, Stacy Chandler, 36, said the trio had wandered up a riverbed in search of a wild animal. The boys had an argument over who should be carrying the gun and were pulling on it when it went off.

"How the hell does a 10-year-old boy end up with a rifle of that calibre? It's a deer hunter's rifle."

He was concerned the gun may have been left unlocked.

"He was a responsible boy and he was from a well-respected family. He was brought up around hunting. That boy could shear a sheep, he could press a bale."

The other boys were traumatised by the shooting and struggling to recount what happened, said Chandler.

"The two boys that were with him are so distressed that every time they come to talk about it they can't speak. They are letting it rest for a few more days. One of them actually carried the casket with my two boys."

Chandler and Patrick's mother, Heleina "Honey" Brass, were only briefly a couple, and Chandler, a locomotive engineer from Papakura, had only met his son a few times.

When he arrived at the Gisborne family home of his former partner for the funeral, Chandler was stunned to see the men had been out hunting pigs for food for the funeral.

"When we arrived the men had been out gathering food for the funeral, hunting wild pigs. I would have thought just leave hunting out of the picture. But in come the pigs on the shoulder, carrying their big knives by their sides. I felt absolutely shocked that they could have gone hunting after what happened. The whole family were obsessed with hunting."

Patrick's funeral was held on Tuesday at the Gisborne home of his mother

Students from Patrick's school, Kaiti School, per-formed a haka as the coffin was carried out of the house.

Chandler said they were still waiting for answers, and added that police had been dealing with the case in a sensitive way.

Linda Papuni, whose nephew Triston, 11, was shot dead three years ago this week lives only a few kilometres away from where the latest death occurred.

Triston's killer, who has permanent name suppression, was released after serving less than a year in a youth justice facility for manslaughter.

His father has also been released after he was convicted of trying to cover up the shooting.

Papuni said gun-education programmes on the coast had "cranked up" since Triston's death, but hadn't reached all of the remote and isolated land.

"This isn't a gun for sport; this is a weapon and it's killed a little boy."

She said: " Our tears mingle with yours, our grief for their loss is as real as the grief for our boy three years ago."

Detective Senior Sergeant Craig Scott said: "We don't consider that either of the two young boys are culpable."

- Herald on Sunday

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