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Reclusive Hastings tinkerer amassed a small arsenal of illegal home-made guns and bombs

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By Ric Stevens, Open Justice multimedia journalist of NZ Herald

Improvised and home-made weapons were found at Alaister Kindell's property.

Improvised and home-made weapons were found at Alaister Kindell’s property.
Photo: NZ Police

A reclusive amateur gun-maker who liked to tinker in his shed amassed a small arsenal of home-made and improvised weapons including several pistols, a taser, and a firearm made out of a torch.

When police raided his property near Hastings in March, they discovered 12 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and had to call in the Defence Force to deal with them.

But the Hastings District Court has been told there was nothing sinister about Alaister Kindell’s arms manufacturing.

He wasn’t doing it to make money. He had no known association with gang members except for occasionally fixing their vehicles. He just did it as a hobby.

The cannabis found growing in a glasshouse at his semi-rural property was also deemed to be for personal use.

Kindell appeared in the court on 14 charges, 10 of which related to the unlawful possession of firearms, pistols and restricted weapons, all of which he admitted. He also pleaded guilty to cultivating cannabis, possessing cannabis plants, possessing two meth pipes, and a breach of community work.

Kindell’s lawyer Hagen Neumegen, described him variously as a hermit, a hoarder, a hobby tinkerer, and a man who lived on the fringe.

A probation officer’s pre-sentence report recommended that Kindell be sent to prison, but Neumegen argued for home detention.

He suggested that sending a man with Kindell’s particular skill set to jail might not be a good idea.

Judge Gordon Matenga agreed it would perhaps “encourage or increase undesirable contacts” with people behind the wire, whom police would rather Kindell didn’t get to know.

Judge Matenga sentenced Kindell to 11 months and two weeks of home detention, with a condition to do a Department of Corrections rehabilitation programme.

The judge said Kindell used the weapons to deal with a rat problem at the property and the IEDs were described as modified fireworks, but “you kept making more guns and explosives”.

Although Kindell was reclusive, the report-writer consulted long-time friends who were aware he made firearms but said it was only because he “liked to tinker” and there was nothing sinister about it.

The judge ordered the weapons, the explosives, and hundreds of rounds of ammunition found at the property to be destroyed.

Kindell has never held a firearms licence.

*This story originally appeared in the New Zealand Herald.

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