2.5 years for Ives manslaughter

February 3rd, 2011 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Mike Watson at the Dom Post reports:

Mears, 26, of Hamilton, was sentenced to 2 1/2 years’ jail yesterday after admitting a charge of manslaughter in December. It is the first time someone has been convicted of manslaughter for a hunting homicide in New Zealand.

Miss Ives mother, Margaret McFarlane, told the court she “wanted to die herself” when she was rung to be told her daughter, a Montessori teacher, had been killed.

“I have no understanding of how a grown man could make so many illegal, selfish, ill-considered and deliberate decisions that ultimately led to him shooting my daughter at close range.

“This was not an accident and it did not happen by chance. There will never be any forgiveness from me for Mears.”

It is correct that this was not some stroke of bad luck, or accident.

Mears has impressed me by his contrition and willingness to front up and talk about how stupid he was, and how awful he feels about what he did (I 95% accept it as genuine – 5% of me remains stubbornly cynical and wonders if his lawyer just told him he should do that).

He does seem shattered by what he did, and I doubt he will ever offend again.

But not sending him to jail was never an option in my opinion, and the sentence is about right. A young woman is dead at Mears’ hand – gunned down in front of her partner. It wasn’t murder but it was manslaughter, and absolutely avoidable. Quite simply you don’t fire a gun unless you are absolutely sure what you are firing at.

Mears’ will not serve the full 30 months in prison. I expect he will get parole at the earliest opportunity. But his sentence hopefully ill serve as a deterrent to others.

An appropriate charge

November 18th, 2010 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

James Ihaka in the Herald reports:

A man who allegedly mistook a woman for a deer before shooting her dead at a campsite is to reappear in court today, this time charged with manslaughter.

Andrew Mears, a 25-year-old motor trimmer from Hamilton, originally pleaded guilty to a charge of carelessly using a firearm causing death when he appeared in the Taupo District Court on November 3.

But police sought a remand without plea on the charge pending the recommendations of the Crown Solicitor at Rotorua. Yesterday the officer leading the investigation, Detective Senior Sergeant Todd Pearce, said Mears would now also face a charge of manslaughter.

As I blogged previously, I think this is appropriate.

Mr Mears seems very remorseful, and one can only feel sympathy for his family.

But at the end of the day, this was not an accident. A young woman was shot to death by Mr Mears. True he did not know he was aiming at her, but when using a gun the test can not be that you did not know what you were aiming at – it has to be you are certain what you are aiming at.

Add onto that the recklessness (and illegality) of shooting at night, and shooting from a moving car, and manslaughter is the necessary charge. There has to be a very clear message to gun users about such behaviour.

Having said that, this is one case where people won’t be calling for the maximum sentence. Manslaughter is the correct charge, and a jail term is inevitable, but I don’t think having Mears spend many years in prison will be of great benefit to anyone.

A sad end to a police patrol

October 26th, 2010 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Britton Brown at the Dom Post reports:

An MP on patrol with police spent almost 40 minutes trying to keep a shot camper alive, then stayed through the night to support the woman’s distraught partner.

Louise Upston, National MP for Taupo, was with police in Turangi on Friday night to see at first hand the harm caused by alcohol when they were called to the shooting of Lower Hutt teacher Rosemary Ives, 25, about 11pm.

Ms Ives was standing next to her partner, Adam Hyndman, brushing her teeth at the Kaimanawa campsite south of Turangi when she was killed. A 25-year-old Hamilton hunter has been charged with careless use of a firearm in relation to her death.

Mrs Upston said that, when she arrived with police, they found Mr Hyndman giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation while a female camper did chest compressions.

Mrs Upston took over the compressions so the other woman could rest, sharing the work until paramedics arrived about 40 minutes later.

“You don’t think, `Will I or won’t I?’, you just get in there and do what needs to be done,” she said. “You become desperate, basically. All of us wanted to do our absolute best to pull [Ms Ives] through. Unfortunately, her injuries were substantial and what we did do was probably never going to be enough.”

She kept thinking about how Mr Hyndman must be feeling, staying by his side after Ms Ives was confirmed dead. She remained with him at Taupo police station until 8am.

About 20 years ago she witnessed her mother’s death while her brother tried CPR, which helped her relate to Mr Hyndman.

“He was devastated … they had just gone to clean their teeth. They’d gone a couple of metres into the bush so you wouldn’t spit out in the area you are going to be sleeping in.”

As an MP, out on patrol with the Police (a quite common occurrence as Police like MPs seeing first hand what they have to cope with), you’re probably thinking the worst you will see is some drunk teens – instead you end up in the middle of this tragic shooting.

Everyone who knows Rosemary Ives will be in mourning, but you do have to feel extra sympathy for Adam Hyndman – to see your girlfriend shot down in front of you must be horrifying, let alone working so hard and for so long to try and keep her alive.

Not an accident

October 25th, 2010 at 7:17 am by David Farrar

The death of Rosemary Ives, whom a hunter mistook for a deer, is tragic and heartbreaking – but it is not an accident.

If the hunter had been legally hunting, and was in the middle of the bush where deer out number humans, and Miss Ives had been wearing a fake pair of antlers then maybe you can call it an accident.

But when you are hunting at night illegally, and firing at the first thing you can see from a moving car, then that is negligence, not an accident.

The police have charged the hunter with careless use of a firearm causing death.I hope this is a holding charge, and they consider manslaughter. Unless there is more to the story than reported (always possible) the behaviour involved was reckless.

Sympathies to the family and friend of Rosemary Ives.