A world away in a quiet English town a family are reliving their own horror story after a young woman they never knew was gunned down while brushing her teeth at a campsite.

Ian Purchase, who lives in Wimborne, Dorset, with his wife Helen, contacted the Herald after reading that Lower Hutt teacher Rose Ives had been shot and killed on Friday night at a campsite south of Turangi.

The 25-year-old was brushing her teeth when Hamilton man Andrew Mears, who was spotlighting for animals, mistook her for a deer and allegedly shot her.

The news brought back bitter memories for the Purchases who rushed to New Zealand after their son Matthew was shot in the head while rabbit hunting on a farm at Waotu near Putaruru in December 2007.

The bullet from the .22 calibre rifle shattered Matthew's skull and destroyed the right side of his brain, narrowly missing the brain stem.

"It's just so heartbreaking that something like this could happen again," said Mr Purchase. "We can imagine just what the family are going through right now."

Matthew returned to England in February 2008, paralysed on his left side and with his sight permanently damaged.

He lived in a rehabilitation centre but is now back - with the aid of a walking stick and an around-the-clock support worker - on the family farm, which has been modified to allow him to work on it.

But Mr Purchase said life for his son would never be the same again.

"We always wonder what would he be doing now and how his life could have turned out as I'm sure the other family would be with their daughter."

He said the courts needed to take a tougher stance in incidents like this.

A Danish tourist, who was responsible for Matthew's gunshot wound, was found not guilty of careless use of a firearm in the High Court at Rotorua in November, 2008.

"If you have a firearm you have a duty to identify your target, the consequences of getting it wrong are tragic for so many people," said Mr Purchase.