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Hunter shooting ’an enormous tragedy’

Quentin McCreedy at sentencing in Hamilton District Court. Photo: RNZ/Andrew McRae.

A Waitoa man, who shot and killed another hunter in the Kaimai Mamaku range on Easter Monday, has been described as a decent man who did a tragic and stupid thing.

Quentin McCreedy, 37, has been convicted in the Hamilton District Court of careless use of a firearm causing the death of 57-year-old Katikati man Gordon Leech.

McCreedy has been sentenced to six months' community detention with a night time curfew, one year's supervision, 200-hours of community work and ordered to pay $10,000 in reparations to Mr Leech's widow.

McCreedy was out hunting stags when he heard a crashing sound ahead of him.

His lawyer Roger Laybourn told the court that McCreedy was unaware Mr Leech was in the area.

"They used their (electronic) caller to call a stag or a hind and the movement of Mr Leech in my clients view was consistent with a deer approaching him and the fact he then sighted a brown coloured object coming towards him, he genuinely thought he had sighted a deer."

Mr Laybourn said while Mr Leech was not wearing any high-vis gear, his client has never disputed the fact that he did not properly identify his target.

"No blame can be placed on Mr Leech for not wearing high-vis hunting clothing."

"He's entitled to wear what clothing he feels is appropriate," he said.

Mr Laybourn acknowledged a text sent to McCreedy from some of Mr Leech's family which reached out to him in a conciliatory and humane fashion.

"It is just an enormous tragedy for all but particularly for Mrs Leech and her family."

The family had indicated to the court it did not want McCreedy going to jail, however the police did.

Prosecuting Sergeant Marc Hepworth asked for between six and nine months.

"To reflect the seriousness of the charge and the fact police don't want it to happen again."

He said McCreedy accepted the fact he did not identify the target.

"If it's not the golden rule of hunting it is certainly one of two or three golden rules of all firearm use."

Judge Rosemary Riddell described it as a senseless death.

"The tragedy of this case is that a life has been taken."

Judge Riddell told McCreedy he had relied too heavily on his belief it was a deer and then made an extremely poor decision.

"You believed that you had sighted a deer, the distance between you and the victim was about 26m, you fired your gun and then you heard the victim call out 'I have been shot'. Mr Leech died at the scene as the result of injuries to his torso."

Judge Riddell agreed with McCreedy that he had stag fever at the time and was too eager to get a deer.

She stopped short of sending him to prison because he was totally remorseful and that his carelessness was out of character.

"You have your own kind of prison sentence I suspect with the knowledge that you will always carry this and the knowledge that you have taken a life."

The court heard that McCreedy was unlikely to ever go hunting again.

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