18 Oct 2010

Murder or tragic mistake: court hears two scenarios

7:16 pm on 18 October 2010

A deliberate shooting or a tragic mistake - those are the two scenarios put before a High Court jury at a murder trial in Hamilton on Monday.

Closing arguments were given in trial of Matamata horsebreeder Gregory Meads, 55, who is accused of murdering his 42-year-old wife Helen on their rural property in September last year.

She was shot at close range in what the Crown says was an intentional killing, but the defence say it was manslaughter because Mr Meads didn't set out to shoot her.

Defence lawyer Murray McKechnie told the court that his client made an appallling mistake and only intended to scare his wife.

Had Mr Meads set out to shoot his wife, he said, he would have walked in and shot her straight away, not waited for her to finish a phone conversation.

The safety catch was on, Mr McKechnie says, but his client can't explain what happened, only say that he didn't change it.

The Crown's Ross Douch said that by knowing his shotgun was loaded Mr Meads was intent on killing his wife, and that a close shotgun blast can't have any outcome other than death.

Mr Douch argues that Mr Meads was motivated primarily by injured pride and fear of material loss after his wife told him she was leaving him.