2 Jun 2010

I freaked out, says man accused of killing officer

6:20 pm on 2 June 2010

The man accused of murdering an Auckland police officer says he was in a cold sweat and feared for his life in the split seconds before he fired the fatal shot.

John Skinner has been giving evidence in the High Court at Auckland. He is on trial with Iain Clegg for the murder of Sergeant Don Wilkinson and the attempted murder of another officer when he found them trying to install a tracking device on his car.

Mr Skinner says he grabbed his airgun and chased the two officers after he mistook them for intruders. When he confronted them, he says, Mr Wilkinson reached for his waist as if reaching for a gun.

Mr Skinner says he then thought he was going to die, freaked out and fired at the officer.

He says he was distraught to learn later that the victim was a policeman and shocked that an airgun shot could be fatal. He had not realised it had the potential to seriously harm anyone, thinking of it as a "glorified toy".

The accused says he bought the Monsoon airgun after being robbed in his home a few months before the shooting.