Gunshot claim in Gibbston feud


Gibbston’s high-profile neighbours at war, bankrupt developer Dave Henderson and former All Black Grahame Thorne, are at it again.

Queenstown police were called to an incident at the Anthem vineyard estate on Saturday night. There are claims a gunshot was fired.

Police arrived at the property about 9.30pm after both men called 111.

Henderson complained about trespass and wilful damage on land he claims as his property and Thorne claiming a firearm had been discharged.

Henderson says he called police after a neighbour told him Thorne and a friend, Richard Guthrey, dug a trench on his property, using a digger, earlier that evening.

The pair excavated a 60m to 70m trench, despite both being subject to trespass orders on his property.

“It’s just wilful damage – it’s insane,” Henderson says.

Thorne and Guthrey have been involved in a series of legal disputes with Henderson, often revolving around water access rights.

Guthrey lives in Bannockburn but runs a wine-tasting business next to the Gibbston Tavern.

In January, Thorne wrote a handwritten apology to Henderson to help settle a civil case taken by the latter and a friend, Ian Hyndman. The pair took the case to put a restraining order on Thorne to stop him sending abusive emails.

Thorne referred the ODT’s inquiries to Guthrey, who says he dug the trench as a contractor for Thorne.

It’s within a legitimate easement Thorne has for a water and power connection across the land, he claims.

About an hour after completing the work about 8pm, he went to investigate car headlights and voices near the trench.

He was standing behind a tree about 20m to 30m away when he heard a “muffled shot that you would expect from a pistol with a silencer fitted”.

“It was definitely a gunshot because immediately afterwards I could smell the cordite.”

Guthrey says Henderson has no ownership rights in the land.

“We were doing everything legitimately, and Henderson comes … thinking that he owns everything and that we have no rights, but we do.”

He and Thorne have given statements to the police.

Henderson says: “I do not have a gun, and I cannot imagine anything sillier than firing a shot – why would you do that?”

Henderson disputes the claim Thorne has an easement across the land, saying: “They’re just making this up. If there was an easement, then of course we’d have no other option but to honour it.”

He intends to bill the pair for the damage.

The police Southern District Command Centre was unaware of the incident, while Queenstown police didn’t respond to the Otago Daily Times’ request for information.

Otago Daily Times