A former Northland prison officer has been sentenced to six months' home detention for firearms offences.
Heemi Corkery, 54, was a prison officer at Northland Region Corrections Facility, Ngawha, up until March last year, when he was charged for possessing a prohibited firearm (a 0.62mm rifle) and five prohibited magazines - four of them for self-loading rifles.
He was also charged with threatening to kill, in relation to a later discovered text message he sent his wife.
Corkery pleaded guilty to all charges and was sentenced in Whangārei District Court by Judge Gene Tomlinson on Wednesday.
The firearms charges arose after a legislative change to the Arms Act outlawing those weapons. Corkery later gave an excuse of apathy saying he failed to surrender them because they were at the back of a locked container of furniture and it was too hard to reach them. He intended to deal with them later.
Counsel Martin Nicholls submitted an end sentence combining community detention and community work was appropriate. He cited Corkery's minimal and historical previous convictions (for cannabis and dishonesty offences in 1990 and 1995), and his current working situation in the concreting industry.
Judge Tomlinson said while he appreciated keeping Corkery in work benefitted him and the community, the higher-order sentence was necessary to reflect how seriously he and the community viewed firearms offences.
This case required significant personal and general deterrence, the judge said.
"Prohibited weapons are prohibited for a very good reason," he said.
However on the threat to kill charge and for one of the magazines (a 0.22 magazine that held 15 rounds) the penalty was limited to a conviction and discharge.
Judge Tomlinson accepted evidence Corkery and his wife were under enormous pressure from a family situation at the time.
Corkery had since apologised and the couple had fully reconciled. He had also attended a Man Alive programme.
Possession of the 0.22 magazine was a less serious offence than the others, the judge said. While that magazine could hold 15 rounds of ammunition, they could not be shot in succession automatically.
Calculating sentence, the judge set a starting point of 12 months imprisonment for the gun, uplifting it by 12 months for the four remaining magazine charges.
He gave a full 25 per cent discount for Corkery's guilty pleas, 10 per cent for his limited prior history and previous good character, and an additional 5 per cent for other personal mitigating factors, including restorative justice with his wife.
The judge arrived at a final prison term of 14 months, which he said was appropriate to convert to seven months' home detention as the least restrictive outcome. He reduced that term to six months for totality, recognising Corkery's time on bail and the time it took for the case to reach sentencing.
Corkery might still be able to attend work on home detention but would be required to remain within sight of his sponsor, a probation officer told the court. It would preclude him from being able to attend jobs off-site.
Crown prosecutor Michael Smith's application for forfeiture and destruction of the rifle and magazine was granted. Corkery agreed to forfeiture of a black powder pistol, seized along with the other items but for which a charge was previously withdrawn.