Discharge for discharge

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A duck-shooter who accidentally blasted his wife with a 12-gauge shotgun has avoided a conviction.

The Queenstown man, given permanent name suppression, shot his wife in the garage of their home on April 10.

She spent two weeks in hospital after sustaining pellet wounds to her abdomen and arm when he inadvertently pulled the trigger as she entered the garage, about two metres away from the weapon.

He’d been refamiliarising himself with his Browning Maxus shotgun ahead of duck-shooting season.

He loaded and unloaded the gun, but miscounted the number of shells that were ejected.

A round in the chamber was discharged as he accidentally put pressure on the trigger while dismantling the gun, leading to a charge of careless use of a firearm causing bodily injury.

Lawyer Louise Denton, in Queenstown District Court on Monday, says the gravity of offending was low – the defendant believed he was handling the gun carefully. But prosecuting sergeant Grant Gerken says he breached three of the seven golden rules of firearm safety: treating every firearm as loaded, always pointing a firearm in a safe direction, and only loading a firearm when ready to fire it.

He was tired after being unable to sleep and had been wrong to think he was in a fit state to handle firearms, Gerken says.

Judge Bernadette Farnan says the man’s wife didn’t want him to be convicted, and supports him “unconditionally and absolutely”, while he feels “profound remorse and guilt”.

Farnan accepts a conviction would affect the couple’s ability to travel overseas together, which was something they did often.

He was granted a discharge and ordered to give $1000 to St John Wakatipu.