By Ian Allen
Three young Marlborough men caught poaching from a Kaikoura deer farm earlier this year are committed to helping stamp out illegal hunting.
The Marlborough Express has agreed to publish their views anonymously today as part of a restorative justice process.
In handwritten letters of remorse to the editor, they describe poaching as "complete selfishness" and one of the "dumbest ideas" ever. One letter was signed "ex-hunter" and another "lesson learnt".
One of the men went as far as saying that appearing in court had changed his "way of thinking towards hunting and life in general".
All three men appeared in the Blenheim District Court on Monday and were discharged without conviction.
According to the police summary of facts, the friends left Blenheim about 8pm and pulled over on State Highway 1 near Oaro, some time after midnight on January 5.
They shone a spotlight into a paddock and shot a red deer.
One of the men went to collect the animal and dragged it back to the car, where its head and guts were removed before it was thrown into the boot.
In doing so, blood was smeared across the back of the car, which was noticed by another motorist who decided to follow them and alert the police.
Judge Tony Zohrab said on Monday that he exercised discretion because of their age and their attempts to "put matters right" through the restorative justice process. More....