18 Aug 2020

Dunedin police officer acquitted of family violence and firearms charges

1:25 pm on 18 August 2020

Family violence and firearms charges against a senior Dunedin police officer have been dismissed following a judge-alone trial.

Auckland court coat of arms.

nocaption Photo: RNZ / Patrice Allen

The officer, who has permanent name suppression, was charged with assault on a person in a family relationship and illegal possession of a firearm.

Judge Kevin Phillips acquitted the officer on both counts in the Dunedin District Court this morning.

The man was accused of hitting his partner during a drunken dispute late last year.

It was also disclosed that the man had a .22-calibre rifle locked in a cupboard at the house.

But the gun was his father's.

The officer denied all wrongdoing and said he was the victim of the violence.

Judge Kevin Phillips said it was indisputable the firearm was stored at the officer's house, but there needed to be proof - beyond a reasonable doubt - that the officer could not only access the gun but also intended to use it.

The prosecution had not demonstrated that, he said.

Judge Phillips admonished the prosecution case and said he questioned if the officer would have been charged if he was not himself a member of the police.

He offered remarks of support to the officer.

"I congratulate you on handling a prosecution which, in my opinion, should never have progressed to the point it did," he said.

Outside court, the officer said he was relieved it was over and paid tribute to his lawyer.

"It's a good result. [Defence lawyer] Anne [Stevens] did a good job," he said.