Sanft manslaughter trial: Shotgun was faulty - police

An expert police armourer has told a court the sawn-off shotgun used to kill a two-year-old was "unsafe", and could be fired accidentally.

Gustav Sanft allegedly shot his daughter Amokoura Daniels-Sanft in the head at close range with the firearm at a south Auckland address in June last year. He's standing trial for her manslaughter.

The toddler, also known as "Amo", had been living at the Favona Road address with Sanft, her mother and three siblings.

The family were preparing to move house when the Crown alleges Sanft aimed the firearm at the toddler to try and scare her after she began "playing up". But the defence argues the shotgun fired "inadvertently" and that Sanft never aimed, pulled the trigger or knew the firearm was loaded.

Police armourer Robert Ngamoki carried out a number of tests on the sawn-off firearm.

"The hammer needs to be cocked in order to pull the trigger. That's the uppermost lever, and you pull it back with your thumb."

When asked by the Crown if the gun could fire without being cocked, Mr Ngamoki said: "The gun won't fire."

He test-fired the shotgun a total of 12 times. Four of those times it failed to discharge.

During cross-examination he told the court after each failed shot he broke open the firearm and checked the cartridge.

"You fired again, and it was unsuccessful?"


"Did you check it again, and was it on the third time that it discharged?"

"Yes, it didn't happen until the third attempt."

Mr Ngamoki says there was no problem with the rounds, but there was a problem with the firearm itself.

"Mr Ngamoki, on a number of occasions you pulled the trigger it didn't discharge, creating the impression it didn't work?"


Mr Ngamoki says a flick test was also carried out on the firearm, which involves pulling back the hammer in a short, sharp flicking motion.

Defence lawyer Phil Hamlin asked if it discharged, even without pulling the trigger.

"Yes, in that situation," Mr Ngamoki told the court.

"[That motion] could lead to an accidental discharging of the firearm?"

"In that case, yes."

Mr Ngamoki says he also tested the cocked shotgun by hitting it with a mallet, and dropping it from a height of 30cm to see if that would cause it to fire.

"It didn't fire."

The armourer told the court the firearm had a working safety catch, and that it would not fire if the catch was on.

The trial continues.