A family 'ripped apart': She mistook her partner for an intruder and fatally shot him

Author
Miriam Burrell, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 29 Apr 2021, 11:34AM
Amy Smith was sentenced for the manslaughter of Danny Taylor in April 2019. Photo / File
Amy Smith was sentenced for the manslaughter of Danny Taylor in April 2019. Photo / File

A family 'ripped apart': She mistook her partner for an intruder and fatally shot him

Author
Miriam Burrell, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 29 Apr 2021, 11:34AM

"The night you shot dad was the worst day of my life, and you Amy, took him away from me," said Danny Taylor's daughter, at the sentencing of his partner, Amy Smith.

Smith, 39, has been found guilty of manslaughter after fatally shooting Taylor with a .22 rifle on his South Head property, mistaking him for an intruder, in 2019.

Smith was today sentenced to nine months behind bars and 400 hours of community service at the High Court in Auckland in front of a full public gallery.

She cried as she sat in the dock, two years on from the death of her partner of 12 years.

"Our family has been ripped apart," said Taylor's mother Fay in a victim impact statement read to the courtroom by her daughter, Deborah.

"Danny is never going to walk through our door again. I miss him so much," it read.

"You took all this away from the family."

Taylor's parents have sold their farm since his death because there is no one to look after it, the court heard.

Taylor's second daughter sobbed as she read her victim impact statement, having to stop short of reading it in its entirety.

"He taught me how to ride my bike, how to drive my car ... he helped me catch my first fish and helped me learn how to be strong.

"Now I can only dream of the days on the farm," she said.

Smith acknowledges the terrible loss to Taylor family, said Smith's lawyer Susan Gray.

"No harm to Taylor was intended ... there was no murderous intent.

"Smith is also utterly devastated by his passing - that is not to diminish the loss to the Taylor family in any way.

"After this incident she was a broken person dealing with not only the consequences of the loss of the love of her life, but dealing with realisation she was the cause of it," said Gray.

"She carries that burden for life, she is undoubtedly remorseful. She has gone from being suicidal to a person who is completely drug free with a strong motivation to help others."

Justice Peters said the case has been a tragedy for everyone involved.

"You and Taylor appear to have been soul mates, and I accept you would turn back the clock not for your own sake, but for his family," she said.

"You have managed to overcome a longstanding addiction and so credit to you."

In April of 2019, there was a substantial crop of cannabis in the converted barn Taylor called home in South Head, near the Kaipara Harbour. The pair feared it would be stolen.

Both Taylor and Smith were addicted to cannabis and methamphetamine, Justice Mary Peters said at Smith's sentencing.

Cannabis branches lay drying over ordinary household items, and there was also a "considerable" number of firearms including a loaded shotgun at the foot of the bed, a jury heard during Smith's trial.

Smith, who had used methamphetamine and cannabis that night, went downstairs believing an intruder was on the property.

Then she said she armed herself with a rifle that was already loaded on the piano.

Smith accepted her finger was on the trigger.

When the gun fired, the bullet went through Taylor's arm and lung, striking his heart.

Smith called 111 for an ambulance but the 52-year-old died before help arrived.

Smith spent nine months in prisons and 15 months on the strictest bail conditions.