The following information was copied from NZOOM.com and lets readers know what situation is developing in respect of the spotlighting poacher who shot a recreational tramper. First hunting manslaughter conviction for 30 years
Andrew Mears/Rosemary Ives - Source: ONE News
For the first time in three decades, a man has been convicted of manslaughter over a hunting death. Andrew Mears mistook camper Rosemary Ives for a deer in a camping ground at Turangi, near Taupo at Labour weekend.
Today he pleaded guilty to manslaughter when he appeared in the Taupo District Court. The conviction could see the 25-year-old Hamilton husband and father put behind bars.
"Frankly, he's terrified. But he has accepted very early on that the consequences must follow," said Roger Leybourn, Mears' lawyer.
On the Friday evening of Labour Weekend, Mears and three companions thought they saw an animal as they drove to their campsite.
The four set off in their two-door Toyota Hilux, with one of them carrying a spotlight.
Ives and a companion were meanwhile at another campsite where she had been settling in and had gone to brush her teeth.
Mears saw two lights in the bush, which he thought were the eyes of a deer, but were in fact a head torch worn by Ives. He shot Ives at the edge of her mouth.
Last time he was in court, Mears faced a charge of careless use of a firearm causing death. His guilty plea to that charge was rejected by the Crown as it wanted more time to decide whether the more serious charge of manslaughter should be laid.
The officer leading the investigation, Detective Senior Sergeant Todd Pearce, said it was appropriate for police to seek further advice about the level of charge, given the wider circumstances of the incident. The manslaughter charge was therefore laid yesterday.
The charge was upgraded to manslaughter because the circumstances differ from most hunting incidents. The victim was a member of the public, not another hunter, and Mears broke permit conditions by shooting at night.
Taupo hunter Jan Lindeman said hunters are upset by the tragedy.
"The hunting fraternity think it's bloody awful," he said.
Lindeman has no connection to the case but was in court today to watch it unfold.
"Manslaughter is an appropriate charge, absolutely, because this man just acted completely irresponsibly," he said.
Lechelle Timms of Napier has also kept a close eye on the case.
Her brother Aron was killed accidentally by a fellow hunter two years ago.
"The police have taken it one step further in this case and gone for manslaughter and I think that it'll start to play on other hunters' minds a little bit more before they pull that trigger...that if they mistake their target for a human that they have taken somebody's life and that they are going to face a very high penalty," said Timms.
Mears will find out in the New Year if that means prison. He will be sentenced at the High Court in Rotorua on February 2. In the meantime he has been remanded on bail.
At his earlier court appearance, Mears said he was a broken man full of sorrow and remorse.