The man who bought a gun for a friend that was allegedly used in the killing of Australian tourist Sean McKinnon has been sentenced to six months' community detention.

Roderick James Finlayson thought he was buying the gun so Mark Garson could practise clay and duck shooting on a farm, the High Court at Hamilton heard today.

But instead the shotgun was allegedly used in the killing of McKinnon in front of his fiancee, Canadian midwife Bianca Buckley, in the early hours of August 16 last year.

Garson is accused of McKinnon's murder and threatening to kill Buckley and will stand trial in November.

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Police say the attack on McKinnon and Buckley took place in the middle of the night in a remote carpark south of Raglan as the pair slept in their campervan.

McKinnon, 33, a surfer from Victoria, suffered a fatal gunshot while Buckley escaped and ran 2km in the dark to raise the alarm.

The couple's van was later found in Gordonton with McKinnon's body inside.

Through victim advocate Ruth Money, Buckley told the court McKinnon's death had shattered her life and she suffered post-traumatic stress disorder, including flashbacks of the event.

"How do I use simple words to describe how you illegally supplying that gun has torn my world apart," Buckley's victim impact statement, read by Money, said.

"I believe your actions enabled the death of my fiance, the love of my life, and I witnessed it all."

Buckley said she now lived in fear of going out in the dark and camping, she was anxious, and couldn't work for nine months after McKinnon's death.

Bianca Buckley told the court her life had been torn apart after she witnessed the death of her soulmate Sean McKinnon in a shooting near Raglan last year. Photo / File
Bianca Buckley told the court her life had been torn apart after she witnessed the death of her soulmate Sean McKinnon in a shooting near Raglan last year. Photo / File

She had cancelled her Australian citizenship application because the couple's dream to live together in Australia was over.

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"You have torn apart my relationship with Sean's family. I am now single again at age 32 years when we were planning to have babies and build a house this year.

"I am essentially starting my life from scratch again, all the while grieving my soulmate, having flashbacks of that night and waiting for a slow justice process that will see me in and out of court, at least until the end of this year.

"You say you were offered $400 for buying that gun. I hope you can sleep at night. Because I certainly can't."

Garson did not have a firearms licence and legally could not buy a gun so allegedly enlisted the help of Finlayson, the court heard.

On March 28 last year Garson is alleged to have contacted Finlayson on Facebook and asked him to buy a gun for him, according to the agreed summary of facts.

The two men communicated sporadically for several months on Messenger until Finlayson suggested the man find a gun on Trade Me, the court heard.

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On August 12 the pair agreed Finlayson would buy a gun for Garson in exchange for $400.

Garson allegedly told Finlayson the type of gun he wanted and they agreed to buy one the next day, it was revealed.

Finlayson acknowledged to the man he had "so much to lose" by purchasing a gun and ammunition for the accused, according to the facts.

The older sister of Sean McKinnon, Emmeline McKinnon told media outside Hamilton District Court the day after her brother was killed her family was heartbroken. Photo / Mike Scott
The older sister of Sean McKinnon, Emmeline McKinnon told media outside Hamilton District Court the day after her brother was killed her family was heartbroken. Photo / Mike Scott

Garson told Finlayson he wanted "strong deadly ammo" to use for hunting out the back of a farm.

On August 13 Garson picked up Finlayson from his home and they drove to a gun store. There Finlayson bought a 12G Dickinson XX3 shotgun and three types of shotgun ammunition.

Finlayson was able to do so by presenting his firearms licence to the store owner. The pair then went back to Finlayson's home.

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Originally Finlayson told police he stored the gun and bullets in a gun safe. However, more recently he admitted giving the weapon to Garson that same day.

The Crown alleges the firearm and ammunition were used by Garson to kill McKinnon three days later, and threaten Buckley.

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Crown prosecutor Rebecca Guthrie acknowledged Finlayson had no inkling the man would allegedly use the gun that way.

His lawyer Glenn Dixon said Finlayson was very remorseful and would do whatever he could to "atone" for his actions.

In sentencing, Justice Graham Lang referred to the outcome as tragic.

He said Finlayson's crime was aggravated by his agreement to receive money for the illegal act, despite the fact he was never paid the $400.

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This made it a commercial transaction rather than a gratuitous act.

Justice Lang said the unlawful possession of the firearm was premeditated because of the length of time the pair conversed about the purchase, and that Finlayson knew what he was doing was wrong.

"I ... accept the Crown's submission that your actions were akin to providing Mr Garson with a loaded weapon."

Justice Lang gave discounts to Finlayson for his previous good character, his guilty pleas, and his agreement to give evidence about the gun purchase in the upcoming trial.

It brought the sentence to a jail term of 13 months which could be served as home detention, but Finlayson's home was not suitable.

Lang, therefore, ordered community detention for six months, including a night curfew which would allow Finlayson to continue to work as a heavy machinery operator across the Waikato.

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Garson's trial by jury is scheduled for November 16 at the High Court in Hamilton.