Pair sentenced for trying to poach with stolen rifle

Two Southland men caught trying to poach deer near Gore with a stolen rifle have been sentenced.

Khan Martin Studer-Mark (24), of Gore, and Roger Hemi Kimihanga Hanara (36), of Mataura, were sentenced on a charge of unlawful hunting in the Gore District Court last week.

Studer-Mark was also sentenced on charges of unlawfully possessing a firearm and ammunition, receiving a firearm and failing to assist with a search.

The court heard that about 10.15pm on August 4, the pair were driving up and down Bushy Park Rd, Waimumu, spotlighting for deer on a roadside property.

When they were confronted by a group of hunters who had permission to be on the property, they drove towards Glendhu Rd, but were stopped by police.

The officers carried out a warrantless search after seeing a rifle lying on the back seat.

As well as the rifle — a .308 Mossberg with five rounds in its magazine — they found four shotgun shells, a single .243 rifle round, several hunting knives and the spotlight. Hanara told them they had been in the area to help a friend who had got stuck, but went looking for deer to ‘‘find a bit of a feed’’. After they were arrested and taken to the Gore police station, the rifle was identified as being stolen from a Winton property in 2021. Studer-Mark, whose firearms licence was revoked in 2017, claimed he had borrowed the rifle that day.

He refused to give the PIN code to his mobile phone.

His counsel, John Fraser, said he had already spent the equivalent of a four-month prison sentence in custody.

He had been unable to go to his brother’s tangi in December.

Judge Catriona Doyle said she would follow the sentence indication given to Studer-Mark by Judge Noel Walsh, in November, of 20 months’ prison with leave to apply for a home detention sentence if a suitable address could be found.

A two-month reduction to recognise his inability to attend the tangi was offset by a two-month increase to remit his unpaid fines of more than $9200.

She ordered the destruction of the rifle and ammunition.

His vehicle has already been seized under the Wild Animal Control Act.

Judge Doyle told Hanara she was putting him on a good behaviour bond by deferring his sentence for 12 months.

He had spent five weeks in custody and a further two and a-half months on electronically monitored bail since his arrest, which was a ‘‘significant punishment’’ in itself.

Judge Doyle told Hanara she was putting him on a good behaviour bond by deferring his sentence for 12 months.