Paintballs fired at holiday traffic

JIMMY ELLINGHAM
Last updated 09:07 08/02/2013

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As his two 14-year-old associates fired paintballs at Christmas holiday traffic, an unemployed Levin man kept driving.

Anthony Hema Thompson, 20, also took a couple of shots at road signs himself and was charged with recklessly discharging a firearm.

"This really is childish stuff," Judge Gregory Ross told him in the Levin District Court yesterday.

"This kind of thing has to be deplored and has to be punished in a way that's recognised by other people."

Thompson was fined $1000 and was disqualified from driving for three months, despite defence lawyer Alexander Dye saying this would affect Thompson's chances of finding work as a mechanic.

A police summary said Thompson was driving his 4WD vehicle back from Otaki Beach about 3pm on December 27 after he and the two 14-year-olds had been shooting at wooden targets.

The two youngsters shot paintball guns at oncoming vehicles as they headed toward Levin.

"The highway was extremely busy with Christmas holiday traffic . . . Two of the drivers were frightened by the discharging paintball gun," the summary said.

Police received "at least" three complaints as yellow paintballs hit windscreens, doors and rear windows.

Thompson was stopped by police in Levin and one of the youngsters tried to hide the paintball gun under a seat.

"When spoken to, [Thompson] said he had stopped on the way and had shot a couple of road signs.

"He said that he was aware his two 14-year-old associates were shooting from his vehicle," the summary said.

Thompson denied shooting any moving vehicles himself.

"[He] also said that it was only when he was stopped that he realised the stupidity of what he and his associates had been doing," the summary said.

Mr Dye said the shooting began with road signs and parked cars. The two youngsters saw some of their classmates and talked about shooting them but Thompson told them that wasn't on.

He now acknowledged that, as the adult, he should have stopped the shooting at moving vehicles too, Mr Dye said.

"[But] he did not shoot any moving vehicles himself, nor did he encourage the boys to shoot."

Judge Ross said Thompson had allowed it all to happen by continuing to drive in heavy traffic as the paintballs were fired.

The 14-year-olds were too young to be charged in an adult court.

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- Manawatu Standard

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