Coroner urges safety after hunting death

James Dodds was killed in a hunting accident south of Rotorua. Photo / Ben Fraser
James Dodds was killed in a hunting accident south of Rotorua. Photo / Ben Fraser

A man shot dead while hunting would likely still be alive if a coroner's recommendations in a previous shooting death had been followed, an inquest has found.

James Dodds was shot by his hunting companion in the Waikite Valley near Rotorua last September.

Coroner Wallace Bain said the tragic death may have been avoided if recommendations from inquests into previous hunting deaths had been followed.

Mr Dodds was shot dead by Henry Worsp after he was mistaken by his friend for a deer.

In January Worsp, 37, was sentenced to six months' home detention and 250 hours' community work after pleading guilty to careless use of a firearm.

As part of the inquest into Mr Dodds' death, Dr Bain made a number of recommendations to the Law Commission and the Government.

These included reviewing the charges available to authorities in hunting accidents and educating hunters about identifying targets, high visibility clothing and sensor products to stop them shooting companions.

He also recommended amending the New Zealand Firearms Safety Code to include experts views and a plea from Mr Dodds' partner Gabrielle Molloy "that hunting companions cease to hunt once separated and not resume until full visual contact is confirmed", said the Coroner's finding.

If his earlier recommendations into hunting deaths had been followed Mr Dodds would probably still be alive, said Dr Bain.

"The findings tragically highlight in paragraph 44 that if the recommendations in the Gillies inquest had been actioned then it is likely Mr Dodds would still be alive today," he said.

He referred to the cases of William Gillies in 2007 and Rosemary Ives in 2010, and noted his recommendations following their inquests, which included identifying targets.

Rosemary Ives, 25, was fatally shot by Andrew Mears while camping with her partner in Kaimanawa Forest Park near Turangi in 2010.

Mears was "spotlighting" with a group of friends when he mistook Ms Ives' head-lamp for deer eyes as she was brushing her teeth.

Three years earlier Michael Lee fatally shot his friend William Gillies after mistaking him for a deer while hunting in the Pureora Forest.

At an inquest into Mr Gillies' death Dr Bain recommended that "careful consideration be given to making offences in hunting situations, ones of strict liability so that the hunters have to establish that they have complied to the appropriate standards required with the Arms Act and the Arms Code".

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