Man shot during motorway chase has compo case dropped

  • 17/08/2015
Richard Neville (File)
Richard Neville (File)

An innocent man shot and wounded during a motorway chase has had his case against police dropped by the courts.

Richard Neville last month launched a claim to sue police for $1.4 million over what his lawyers called "gross negligence" during the 2009 police chase on the North-Western Motorway that ended with 17-year-old Halatau Naitoko dead and Mr Neville permanently injured.

Mr Neville, 46, suffered serious shrapnel damage to his body and arms when he was caught up in the confrontation between armed police and gunman Stephen McDonald.

McDonald had been hijacking cars at gunpoint and shooting at police for an hour when he hopped on the truck Mr Neville was driving, before police fired at the vehicle, hitting its windscreen with one of four shots.

Mr Neville's lawyers claimed the police officer had intentionally shot through the truck's windscreen, to hit McDonald on the back of the truck - an act that was dangerous and negligent.

However, Crown lawyer Peter Gunn said the case should be thrown out before time and money were wasted on a lengthy trial.

He said police had shot at McDonald to protect the public from a dangerous gunman and Mr Neville's wounding was clearly accidental.

Although Mr Neville had already been compensated ex-gratia by police and ACC, he sought a trial under Section 9 the Bill of Rights Act.

Justice Geoffery Venning today released his decision upholding the Crown's motion to drop the case because Mr Neville had "no reasonable arguable cause of action".

"The police action cannot be categorised as treating Mr Neville as less than human, or conduct which was so out of proportion to the particular circumstances so as to cause shock and revulsion or such as to shock the national conscience," Justice Venning said.

An earlier Independent Police Conduct Authority report cleared the officers of any breaches, but said the shooting was "not accurate or safe".

3 News/NZN