Man aimed rifle at woman's head and fired

By Abigail Hartevelt

A woman cowered in the corner covering her head with her hands as her partner loaded a rifle and pointed it at her, repeatedly pulling the trigger, the Rotorua District Court has been told.

Fortunately for the woman the rifle was jammed and the safety catch was on. She was so scared she vomited out of the bedroom window.

The woman's partner, Taupo farm worker Marty Graeme Durham, 30, was sentenced in the Rotorua District Court yesterday to three years and nine months' jail after previously pleading guilty to a charge of committing a crime using a firearm, two charges of injuring with intent and a charge each of threatening to kill and breaching a protection order.

Judge James Weir said there had been a history of arguments between Durham and his partner which came to a head on April 30 last year when the couple and their three children, aged between 1 and 5, were at their home in Taupo.

The couple had been arguing over their relationship and the woman wanted to leave Durham. He struck her over the head with a baby walker with such force it broke. He continued assaulting his partner until their 3-year-old child came to the door.

Durham talked of wanting to take his life and went out to the garage.

He went back inside the house to a bedroom with his partner after sending their children to the lounge.

As he loaded a rifle, his partner was cowering in the corner with her hands over her head. He cocked the rifle and pointed it at his partner's head before repeatedly pulling the trigger.

"It was lucky it [the rifle] was jammed and the safety catch was on," Judge Weir said.

Durham's partner was so scared she vomited out of the bedroom window. The ordeal came to an end when a farm worker arrived at the house.

The victim suffered a broken finger, black swollen ear and bruising to her forearm.

A protection order was issued against Durham but on June 13 last year he went to the house where his partner and children were staying.

Durham's partner and children went with him to his house at his request and during the trip to his home he repeatedly asked her to come back to him, becoming agitated.

They parked on the side of the road and then got out of the car. His partner then got back inside the car and tried to lock the doors but Durham had the car keys.

Durham punched his partner forcibly around the head 15 times in front of their children as she screamed for help. She managed to drive off with the children.

On this occasion the woman suffered a lump to the side of her head, a black eye, grazing around her eye, bruising to an arm, cuts to her fingers and tenderness to her face.

Durham's lawyer Martin Hine said the incident with the rifle must have been a frightening ordeal for the woman but in a victim impact statement the woman had said she saw some future with Durham. There had been disagreements between the couple with Durham wanting to live in the country and his partner wanting to be in town.

Judge Weir said the woman had said she wanted Durham to be given a chance.

Durham had previous convictions for serious assaults and was sentenced to six years' jail for aggravated robbery in 2001.

After his release from jail in 2005 he remained offence-free and focused on being a hard worker and a provider for his family.

However, problems began again when he started using cannabis and methamphetamine.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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