Teen gets jail for airgun tragedy

16:00, Dec 02 2013

A teenager who admitted killing his childhood friend after shooting him with an airgun has been jailed.

Zhivargo Edward Blake Williams, 19, was sentenced to two years and seven months in prison when he appeared for sentencing in the High Court in Auckland on Friday.

He pleaded guilty in October to a charge of manslaughter and unlawful possession of a firearm.

Williams' friend Shaun Townsley, 18, of Takanini, died after being hit in the heart with a pellet from a high-powered airgun on January 12.

Justice Graham Lang told Williams the tragic incident involved the "stupid and foolhardy" use of a firearm and that he had not meant to kill his friend.

"It is simply not acceptable to drink, smoke cannabis and play around with guns," he said.


However, he accepted that Williams was bearing a "significant sense of loss" over the tragic accident.

On the day Townsley was shot, he, Williams and three other friends had travelled to St Heliers where they had smoked a cannabis joint and drank beer. Williams also showed Townsley the airgun which he'd put in the glove box.

The group then travelled across the harbour bridge to the North Shore and back to the Mt Eden domain where they drank beer.

With Williams at the wheel, the teenagers later headed back to Manurewa. As the car pulled on the Southern Motorway on-ramp, Williams nearly collided with another car.

Williams and the driver of the other car - whose 7-year-old son was a passenger - had a "verbal altercation" and then carried on driving on the motorway.

Williams then produced the airgun from the glove box and pointed it at the car, which was behind him, making the driver and his son "frightened for their lives".

After the group returned to Manurewa, Townsley and another friend were urinating near a boundary fence near a tree stump.

Williams picked up the gun and said to a friend, "Dude, watch this". He aimed the gun at a can sitting on the top of the stump. Instead of hitting the can, he shot Townsley.

Townsley immediately turned around, clutched the left side of his chest and said: "I got hit" before falling down. Williams ran to his friend, yelling: "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry."

An ambulance was called and Townsley was taken to Middlemore Hospital where he underwent surgery. A metal slug was found in his heart.

He died in hospital the next day. 

Manukau Courier