17 Jul 2017

Manslaughter trial: man admits having illegal pistol

9:51 pm on 17 July 2017

A man accused of the manslaughter of his two-year-old daughter has admitted having an illegal pistol - a sawn-off shotgun.

Gustav Sanft at the High Court in Auckland.

Gustav Sanft at the High Court in Auckland today. Photo: RNZ / Edward Gay

Gustav Otto Sanft admitted the firearms charge this morning, shortly before his trial was due to get underway in the High Court in Auckland.

He has denied a charge of manslaughter relating to the death of his daughter, Amokura Daniels-Sanft, who died last year after she was shot in the head with a shotgun.

His lawyer Phil Hamlin told the court Mr Sanft thought the gun wasn't loaded and was rubbish because it didn't fire.

The Crown said Mr Sanft pointed the gun at his daughter as she jumped on a couch outside their Mangere home.

But Mr Hamlin said there would be evidence to show the gun could go off without the trigger being pulled and his client didn't aim it at anybody.

A passer-by, Katalina Katoa, told the court she was driving through Mangere with her two-month-old son in the back seat when she heard a gun shot.

She said she headed down Favona Rd in Mangere and saw a family outside a house. A woman was on the phone and two men were nearby with children crying.

Ms Katoa said further down the driveway, a man was holding the body of a child, screaming and crying. She got out of her car, and asked the lady on the phone what was happening. Ms Katoa said the woman told her to call 111. Her call will be played in court tomorrow.

The court was told the Sanft family was moving house on 2 June last year.

Close friends of Mr Sanft were helping out with the move. One of those was Anna Leao.

She told the court she had known Mr Sanft since the pair had been in nappies, running around Sunday School.

She said she was up the end of the driveway with one of Mr Sanft's children when she heard the gunshot and turned around.

Ms Leao said she didn't know anything was wrong until the children started crying and she saw the two-year-old - Amokura.

Her partner, Jimmy Tikoinamaka, was in his car when he noticed a taped-up handle protruding from Mr Sanft's pants.

He said the handle was similar to that on the sawn off shotgun displayed in court inside a perspex box.

He told the court he was reaching for a cigarette lighter when the gun went off.

Mr Sanft wept during most of their evidence

Earlier, the prosecutor Katie Hogan opened the case for the Crown.

She said Amokura was playing on a sofa in the driveway. Ms Hogan said Mr Sanft was angry when he pointed the gun at her.

But Ms Hogan said the Crown's case was not that Mr Sanft intended to kill or hurt her.

When the shot went off he immediately dropped the gun and picked up his daughter.

He told police officers first on the scene that he pulled the trigger after his daughter was playing up and asked what had he done.

Ms Hogan said Sanft failed in his duty of care by pointing a loaded shotgun at a child, failing to check the safety catch was on and pulling the trigger.

Mr Sanft's lawyer Phil Hamlin said the gun went off accidentally - without his client pulling the trigger.

Mr Sanft has admitted a charge of unlawfully possessing a firearm.

The trial has been set down for three weeks.