NZ Police Decide Against Firearms Charges Against Morrinsville Farmer

LAWFUEL – The Legal Newswire – A decision on whether Morrinsville farmer, Lloyd Bonnar, will be charged after discharging a firearm during the course of an altercation at his farm in August has been reached.

In the early hours of Monday 13 August 2007 Mr Bonnar was confronted with a situation which has been the subject of close scrutiny and interest by Police, media and the public.

Mr Bonnar lives in a rural area, his house is some 800 metres from the road. He had been the subject of thefts prior to this incident.

About midnight a security sensor alerted him to possible intrusion onto his property and he chose to investigate the cause of the alarm activation.

He elected to take his unloaded shotgun and ammunition with him when he left the house. His wife travelled with him in their vehicle, the unloaded shotgun resting on her lap.

The Bonnar’s drove to the milking shed area where a vehicle with two occupants was seen driving from the petrol storage tank. Mr Bonnar stopped his vehicle in the farm race, blocking the intruders’ path.

He got out of his vehicle taking the shotgun with him. Due to the erratic driving actions of the offenders Mr Bonnar chose to load the shotgun.

Despite his voice appeals the offenders failed to comply with his requests and

Mr Bonnar fired two shots, at least two minutes apart.

The shots were not aimed at the intruders.

Both intruders got out of the car and lay on the ground. Mrs Bonnar then left to ring Police and Mr Bonnar’s brother, who lives nearby.

Mr Bonnar’s brother arrived shortly after and bound the thumbs of both intruders. He stayed with Mr Bonnar until Police arrived.

The two intruders were subsequently charged in relation to their actions and have been sentenced.

With the assistance from ESR experts a Police investigation into Mr Bonnar’s actions commenced.

Once the scene was examined and witnesses spoken to the file was forwarded to Police Legal Section for their opinion as to whether any criminal liability existed on the part of Mr Bonnar.

As you can appreciate, the ramifications of cases of this nature are far reaching.

There is a perception held by many that cases such as this can be grouped together and the same resolution applied to all.

That is not the case, the circumstances of each case differ and those differences determine the final resolution achieved.

Mr Bonnar’s actions have been examined closely.

The Crimes Act 1961 affords people protection from criminal liability where their actions are justified in certain circumstances and those protections exist in this present case.

An additional factor taken into consideration is whether it is in the public interest for a prosecution to be taken.

It is the view of Police that no charges will be laid against Mr Bonnar in respect of his actions in the early hours of Monday 13 August.

The decision not to prosecute in this case is not an indication that Police endorse possession of firearms for protective purposes.

I cannot emphasise strongly enough that every case is different. The individual circumstances vary widely as do the range of outcomes.

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