15 Jul 2015

Police shooting victim seeking compo

7:11 pm on 15 July 2015

Richard Neville talked to his dog before turning up to court today to hear his lawyers argue he should be compensated for being shot by police.

The blacksmith was shot and wounded by police as members of the armed offenders squad hunted a drug-fuelled gunman on Auckland's north-western motorway in 2009.

Today Justice Venning reserved his decision on a Crown application to have Mr Neville's bid for compensation dismissed.

Outside court Mr Neville said he felt like the little guy throwing stones at the Goliath-like police force.

"This morning, to be honest, I got the dog into bed and put the blankets over my head and discussed it with the dog - whether I was going to get out of bed because [I was] quite nervous."

He said the long-term effects of being shot by police would get worse as he got older.

"Because I have lots of parts of foreign particles in my body - lead and glass and tungston and copper - all of these things are not good. That's why we take them out of paint, let alone put them inside our body where... your body is feeding on them."

He said media reports of a $1.4 million claim were not accurate and he was yet to put a dollar amount before the court - but there had been a cost to his life.

Today Crown lawyer Peter Gunn asked the court to strike out the court case, saying the police were faced with a situation where gunman Stephen McDonald had been firing at the police helicopter and pointing his gun at the police and others.

He said the police had made a substantial payment to Mr Neville but that in no way indicated any liability.

As well, Mr Neville had been covered by ACC.

Mr Neville's lawyers claimed a police officer tried to shoot McDonald when the gunman was on the back of Mr Neville's truck, but in order to do that the officer would have to have fired a bullet that passed through the front windscreen and the back windscreen before hitting Mr McDonald.

He said that scenario could not seriously be entertained by the court and labelled it "fanciful".

Mr Gunn said that scenario was not backed up by the Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) finding or the Coroner's court, and that the wounding of Mr Neville was an accident; Mr Neville was the wrong person, in the wrong place at the wrong time.

But Mr Neville's lawyers have said the officer fired his rifle with reckless indifference.

Charl Hirschfeld said the police were hunting McDonald in order to protect the public but that exercise was counter-productive if members of the public were injured or killed.

The IPCA had found that shots fired by the police officers were not accurate and that was demonstrated by the outcome that left Mr Neville wounded and killed courier driver Halatau Naitoko.

Mr Hirschfeld said the case was the first of its kind and was breaking new ground.

He said Mr Neville claimed McDonald was on the back of the truck when police fired at him but the police version was that McDonald was trying to get into Mr Neville's truck.

The different version of the events needed to be tested at trial.

Mr Naitoko's family has received $225,000 in compensation from the police.