Graphic content warning: Some readers may find this story disturbing.

A mother has described the anguish of people stopping her from reaching her 2-year-old daughter after she was fatally shot at their family home.

Amokura Daniels-Sanft died after she was shot in the head on June 2 last year.

She was shot while playing in the driveway of her family home in South Auckland.


Her father Gustav Otto Sanft, 26, is charged with her manslaughter and has pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a pistol, as the sawn-off shotgun was technically classified.

He is on trial in the High Court at Auckland before a jury and Justice Geoffrey Venning.

The toddler's mum Julia Daniels fought through tears today to tell the court of her daughter's tragic death.

Daniels said the day Amokura died she had left the home to hire a skip bin as the family prepared to move to a new house.

Breaking down on the witness stand, Daniels provided an emotional account of how an enthusiastic Amokura wanted to come with her on the journey. But she told her daughter to stay at home with her father.

After being unable to hire a skip, and stressed from the move, Daniels stopped to get something to eat.

"That's when I got the phone call," she said.

"All I remember is that she told me I needed to get home, I needed to get home."


The mum sped home.

"As soon as I came to the intersection I could see where the corner of the house was, I could see the fire engine and the ambulance and it just made me panic.

"I tried to get into my house but they stopped me ... I think it was the police but I can't remember," she said during her emotional testimony.

"They wouldn't let me get to my baby ... I couldn't see anything I could hear [Sanft] crying.

"All I remember is I just wanted to go and hug my baby."

She claimed to have no knowledge of her children finding the gun in the hot water cupboard the previous day or that the gun was even at the home.

However, under cross-examination by defence counsel Phil Hamlin she said she was "upset" when told of the weapon's existence and told Sanft to "get rid of it".

She said Amokura was "daddy's girl".

"Amo was [Sanft's] baby, he was just the best father to her ... He loves them all unconditionally, he wouldn't favour any of our kids."

Gustav Sanft after an earlier High Court appearance in relation to the death of his daughter. Photo / Doug Sherring
Gustav Sanft after an earlier High Court appearance in relation to the death of his daughter. Photo / Doug Sherring

This morning the court heard a 111 call from Katalina Katoa, who was driving past the scene that day.

"I just got to the house ... I don't think that the child is alive," she told the operator.

"I was driving with my son and heard a big bang - I have no idea what happened.

"I don't think the child is awake ... I don't think so," she said as wailing could be heard in the background.

Katoa then handed the phone to a police officer who told the operator Amokura was dead and had suffered a fatal "skull fracture".

The constable indicated the incident may have been a driveway vehicle accident.

Neighbour Susana Yuen, who was at the back of her home by the washing line, recalled the distinctive sound of a gun shot, familiar to her because her son was in the United States Army.

"That's when I heard the gunshot ... The sound of a gun."

She also remembered how Amokura was "playing in the driveway with her little rubber duck".

Sanft's family were preparing to move homes at the time of the incident.

Crown prosecutor Katie Hogan said during her opening address that Amokura was "playing up" and jumping on the couches in the driveway.

"[Sanft] became angry and pointed the gun, perhaps intending to only scare her," Hogan told the court.

Sanft then pulled the trigger, she said.

The scene on Favona Rd, Mangere after the shooting. Photo / Jason Oxenham
The scene on Favona Rd, Mangere after the shooting. Photo / Jason Oxenham

Amokura was shot just above her left eye at "close range", causing her skull to fracture as she suffered a "significant and unsurvivable head wound", Hogan said.

Three police vehicles, which happened to be driving past the address to another incident at the time, were waved down.

"The scene that police arrived at was chaotic and traumatic," Hogan said.

During the distressing scene Sanft also made a series of remarks to police, she said.

"I pulled the trigger, she was just playing up, I f****d up, what have I done?" Hogan said the 26-year-old told an officer.

Hogan said Sanft also mentioned to police he was less than a metre from his daughter when he fired the gun.

The day before Amokura died Sanft's older children were clearing out a hot water cupboard at the house when they found a sawn-off shotgun wrapped in a purple sheet, Hogan said.

Sanft did not have a secure gun safe at the home nor a firearms licence, she added.

Hamlin argues the gun fired accidentally.

"He caused the death of his child, the own flesh and blood of his daughter, but it was an accident," he said.

"The shotgun fired accidentally without having to have pulled the trigger."

He said Sanft did not believe the gun was loaded and did not "point the gun at her or at her head".