Father of murdered Featherston man fired shotgun above policeman’s head
By Chelsea Boyle
A shot fired in the dark over the head of a police officer in Featherston was a mistake motivated by a tragic past incident.
David John Jones, 69, farmer, appeared in Masterton District Court for sentence yesterday on two firearms charges.
Jones may have feared the worst when an unknown person approached his rural property after dark in April this year.
His son Glen Jones was murdered five years ago when intruders burst into his urban Featherston flat and beat him to death.
Tariana Jones, Matthew John McKinney, Kristofer Lee Jones, and Hayden Ranson were convicted in 2014 for his murder.
Each was sentenced to life imprisonment with a non-parole period of 17 years.
Yesterday, the court heard that on April 29 David Jones saw someone with a torch coming up his driveway at about 9.30pm.
He shouted at the person to leave and fired his shotgun above, but in the direction of, the person coming towards his property.
The court heard how Jones believed a lot of bad people came up that road towards the reserve area and how he did not know it was a police officer making an inquiry.
Police had been conducting a search in the area for two lost mountain bikers.
Defence lawyer JP Delamere said Jones had never been in a court dock before, and had “profusely apologised” the moment he realised his mistake.
He had pleaded guilty at earliest opportunity, and was “adamant he accepted the summary of facts”, Mr Delamere said.
Police were not opposed to a pre-sentence recommendation as to sentence, there was no animosity between them and Jones.
Judge Barbara Morris said while it was a “serious offence” Jones had been “hypervigilant” to people approaching his property, particularly at night, given that his son had been murdered.
The person coming up the road was a police officer, coming up the road to make inquiries.
“Had you known that you wouldn’t have taken the steps that you took.”
Jones had not attempted to find out who it was, it could have been a relative, the judge said.
“Hypervigilance” was behind this gross misjudgement.
“Your 70-year-old wife has been terrified since the murder of your son,” judge Morris said.
“The trial was extremely traumatising for both of you.”
Charges regarding firearms and police officers almost inevitably carry imprisonment, she said.
But in this “unusual” instance that would not be the case.
For unlawfully possessing a Mossberg 500 pump action shotgun and discharging it to frighten, Jones was convicted and ordered to come up if called upon for a period of 12 months.