NT whip maker not guilty over shooting

NT whip maker Michael Denigan has been acquitted after he shot a man in the leg.
NT whip maker Michael Denigan has been acquitted after he shot a man in the leg.

Famous outback whip maker Mick Denigan has walked free from court after a jury decided he was justified in shooting a man who confronted him with an axe on his property.

The 54-year-old was found not guilty by an NT Supreme Court jury of unlawfully causing serious harm by shooting Thomas McIntyre, 44, in the leg at his remote Darwin River property shortly before midnight on February 23 last year.

Mr Denigan is well-known in the Top End as a Crocodile Dundee figure through his Mick's Whips and crocodile catching and skin company and is seen on TV and at markets teaching people to crack a whip.

He supplied the stock whips for Baz Luhrmann's film Australia and Bill Gates, Prince Philip and George W Bush have been given one of his whips.

When asked outside court what he would do now, he laughed and said: "Me? I'm going to go and make some whips hey."

He was philosophical about going through the stress of a trial, saying "you address it, tell the truth and you're halfway there ... that's life and you plod along".

On the day of the shooting, he had a falling out with 19-year-old Chantelle Holden with whom he been been having a sexual relationship after splitting from his wife.

He believed she had stolen $100 from his wallet.

Text messages were exchanged between Mr Denigan and Ms Holden and her twin sister Danielle.

The sisters were with a group of people drinking when insulting messages were sent from Danielle Holden's phone to Mr Denigan - which she told the court Mr McIntyre sent - offering to perform homosexual sex acts on him.

Mr McIntyre, Ms Holden's brother Michael Holden and driver William Allen - the only sober one - then drove in the rain to confront Mr Denigan on his property, which they said was because they were worried for Chantell Holden's welfare.

Mr McIntyre admitted to having an axe but said that was to protect him from any dogs and he was intending to have a quiet conversation with Mr Denigan.

Denigan was making whips when the car arrived and told police he feared for his life when he shot Mr McIntyre in the leg after seeing him walk up his property unannounced with an axe and two other men.

"A question you may or not consider significant is why would three men set off late at night to go to Denigan's home?" Justice Anthony Graham said before sending the jury out to deliberate.

"Was it simply to have a quiet chat with him ... or was it for a more sinister reason?"

The prosecution was unable to convince jurors that Mr Denigan had not acted in self-defence.

Mr McIntyre - who was in hospital for three months - and the other two men had conflicting stories about who sent the text messages and whether an axe was used.

Australian Associated Press