While the shotgun that fired into Auckland toddler Amokura Daniels-Sanft might be unsafe, it was her father’s reckless behaviour that killed her, Crown prosecutors say.
Gustav Sanft, 26, is accused of his two-year old daughter Amokura’s manslaughter at a home in Favona in June last year.
He is standing trial at the High Court at Auckland where he has denied the manslaughter charge but pleaded guilty to unlawfully possessing a pistol.
Today, prosecutor Katie Hogan closed the Crown case by admitting the shotgun could sometimes fire when its hammer was flicked, even if the trigger was not pulled.
But not once during the trial had a witness, including Sanft, testified the hammer was either flicked or knocked, she said.
“(The shotgun’s) unsafe features were not what caused Amokura’s death. Mr Sanft’s failings caused Amokura’s death,” she said.
She said Sanft had failed to check if the shotgun was loaded, if its safety catch was on, and he not only held it too close to his daughter but pointed it at her and pulled the trigger.
Any one of these actions was enough to convict Sanft of manslaughter for unlawfully breaching his duty of care when handling a dangerous object, she said.
She also attacked Sanft and other defence witnesses’ credibility, accusing him of concocting an alternative narrative on the fly.
She said while he had admitted to police shortly after the shooting that he pulled the trigger, he changed this during his trial.
At first, under questioning by the Crown, he said he was unsure if he pulled the trigger, “My heart says ‘no’, but my mind is unsure”,
Ms Hogan said.
Later, he flatly denied pulling the trigger, she said.
Another inconsistency, she said, was his claim under testimony he never held the shotgun prior to the day of Amokura’s shooting.
However, he would then admit to handling it four times prior.
This included putting it away after first discovering it and putting it away three more times after his cousins test fired it, after friends played with it and after two children found it in a cupboard.
Sanft also claimed the gun just went off in his hands, possibly because he had been tapping the weapon.
However when asked to demonstrate, he indicated he tapped the barrel, not the hammer area, which was proven to be the gun’s most unsafe feature, Ms Hogan said.
Instead, she said Sanft got mad at his young daughter for jumping on a couch, pointed the gun at her and pulled the trigger.
That he had not expected the gun to go off, made the case particularly tragic, but did no lessen his guilt, she said. NZN