Hunter pleads guilty to manslaughter

Thursday 18 Nov 2010 5:05 p.m.

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By Rachel Morton

The Hamilton hunter who shot dead Lower Hutt teacher Rosemary Ives has pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

The charge was upgraded from careless use of a firearm causing death.

Andrew Mears' lawyer says he is terrified at the prospect of prison, but wants to face the consequences of his mistake.

Mears was on the verge of tears as he pleaded guilty to killing Ms Ives.

Yesterday police upgraded the charge against him from one of careless use of a firearm causing death to manslaughter.

"The feature that makes it more serious than the average one is that he was hunting in breach of the terms of his permit, and his permit said no hunting at night," says lawyer Roger Laybourn.

Mr Laybourn says it's unusual for manslaughter charges to be laid in a hunting case and he'd like to see Parliament introduce an intermediary charge.

"Here we have this extraordinary gap between the level of careless causing death, which has a three-year penalty, and manslaughter, which has a maximum of life imprisonment."

Jan Lindeman has been hunting for 60 years, and is concerned the actions of one hunter will cause more restrictions against hunters.

"I think he's doing the right thing by pleading guilty. The thing that worries me is people like this giving hunting a bad name."

Mears will be sentenced in February and is aware he could face prison time.

"Well frankly he's terrified," says Mr Laybourn, "but he has accepted very early on that consequences must follow."

Manslaughter carries a maximum penalty of life in prison, but Mears lawyer is hoping he'll avoid jail altogether. He'll be asking the judge for either a suspended sentence or home detention.

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