Poacher told to ‘get real’

A hunter has been told to take his deer poaching charge seriously, get himself a lawyer – and take his hands out of his pockets.

It got real all of a sudden for McKenzie Temuera Priest, 23, when his case was called before Judge Kevin Phillips in the Christchurch District Court for sentencing.

Priest said he had not had the time to arrange a lawyer, after admitting the charge in October.

“It’s only been three months,” said the judge.

The sentencing had not begun well for Priest, as he stepped into the dock.

“Take your hands out of your pockets for a start,” said the judge, who then went on to tell Priest that he needed to be “much more focussed” and treating the matter seriously.

He warned him that the sentencing judge might think there was a need for “strong denunciation and deterrence”. He asked for a pre-sentence report which will consider Priest’s ability to pay his $2430 share of the reparation.

The charge carried a maximum penalty of two years’ imprisonment, said the judge.

Priest and another man, Tamati John Nelson, 30, of Oxford, both admitted charges of killing two animals on the Coal Creek Estate – a safari park at Oxford – without the authority of the owner of the land. A third man, aged 18, has appeared in the Invercargill District Court.

The animals would have been worth money as trophies, and the trio faces a total reparation bill of $7300.

Judge Phillips decided to grant Priest a further remand to be dealt with in Christchurch with the co-offender who is scheduled for sentencing on April 30.

“I recommend seeing a lawyer immediately,” he told Priest.