Woman pleaded to live after shooting

A woman says she pleaded for her life after her ex-partner shot her in the leg at close range with a pump action shotgun in front of her two children.

“Please don’t kill me. My kids need me,” she said, as Luke Adam Nickless held the shotgun to her head, she told the Christchurch District Court.

The Crown says it is a simple case of domestic violence with an angry and deliberate shooting. The defence says the shooting was accidental.

The woman gave her evidence on the first day of the trial of Nickless, 35, who denies charges of assaulting the woman, wounding her with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, and threatening to kill her.

He also denies unlawful possession of the shortened weapon – the Crown said it was short enough to be classified as a pistol – and four military-style semi-automatic weapons.

The trial before Judge Jane Farish and a jury is expected to take up to four days.

Crown prosecutor Sean Mallett said Nickless had been in a relationship with the victim, Renaye Strachan, for three years and they had a two-year-old, but they had separated in February 2017. Mrs Strachan also had a six-year-old child from a previous relationship.

About 2.30pm on September 29 she had brought both children to his address in Loburn, North Canterbury, after a text invitation, to ride their motorbikes. The pair got into an argument about child care arrangements.

The Crown alleged Nickless grabbed her around the throat, but then released his grip.

Mrs Strachan picked up the two-year-old and put him in the carseat in her car. She also told her six-year-old to get in the car, but she then realised that Nickless had taken her car keys.

She said in evidence that he put her phone and keys on a fence post. When she got out of the car to get the items, Nickless reached into a raised garden and picked up a short black gun and shot her.

“I looked down and there was all this meat hanging out of my leg, and a big stream of blood pumping out.”

She said Nickless then said, “How do you like that, bitch. I shot you.” He also held the gun to her head and said he was going to “blow your f—–g brains out”.

Mrs Strachan repeatedly pleaded with him not to, saying her children needed her, but Nickless said he was going to have to kill her and then kill himself. “I didn’t know if he was going to kill the children or not.”

Nickless said to her, “Why wouldn’t you just talk to me? Why couldn’t we just work this out? Why can’t we just be a family?

She told the court, “I said, ‘I don’t know. I just wanted my space. I wanted six months to work things out and not be afraid of you anymore’.”

Nickless got a first aid kit while the woman’s six-year-old ran to a neighbouring property to get help.

Mr Mallett told the jury the Crown said Nickless’ actions were “totally inconsistent with this being an accident”.

“The defendant was angry and upset and deliberately shot his ex-partner after an argument,” he said.

Defence counsel Mike Brownlie said the couple had been in a tumultous relationship. He asked the jury to carefully consider the evidence about the handling of the firearm and the manner in which it was discharged. The defence said there was no assault, and there was no threat to kill.

He said: “Why you are really here is to make an assessment of both the credibility and reliability of the witnesses. The defence asks that you keep an open mind when making that assessment.”

The trial is continuing.

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