Editorial: Stupidity knows few bounds

Last updated 09:39 11/02/2013

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The staggering stupidity and cruelty of those who would be the life of the party continues to surface in New Zealand courts.

No-one's smiling at the case of teenager Daniel Trevor Nelson, who has admitted branding a drunkenly unconscious 16-year-old boy with a cigarette lighter to give him burn scars known as "smileys" on his face. Nelson is also waiting to be sentenced on a second branding stunt, this time on the thigh of a 15-year-old girl.

The boy's scarring, in particular, was described in the Alexandra District Court as possibly permanent. Judge Eddie Paul has called the behaviour sick, which indeed it was. No less so for also being idiotic.

Another snickering creep to make the headlines recently, though under age and unidentified, put a tattoo on the back of another resident of a Porirua Child, Youth and Family home. The victim, a boy, had asked for a cross "like Jesus died on" and was given a swastika. Nice.

Teenagers, particularly, tend to live in the moment. Matt-Dillon Shannon, 17, thought it would be a real hoot to pour petrol on another boy at a birthday party and set him alight. So too, presumably, did others who held their victim down.

Instead of rolling away and dabbing the fire out as they had imagined, he screamed and burned in the manner of just about anyone who has been doused in accelerants.

For his part, Shannon has been sentenced to three years' jail, a lesser sentence for helping police identify the other involved.

You want more drunken pranks? We are seriously spoilt for choice.

Late last year Hamilton coroner Gordon Matenga found himself ruling on the accidental death of a Motueka man who died after a friend taped his mouth closed to shut him up. It was a terribly stupid action even if police determined - and it must have been a fine call - that it was not culpable enough to warrant prosecution.

Awful party pranks are by no means the sole province of teenage idiocy. They scarcely come more heartbreaking than the case of Matthew Schofield who, at a Merrill Lynch party in Auckland in 2000, careered around trying to set fire to hats and clothing, finally igniting the grass skirt of high-rising futures trader Gareth MacFadyen, who later died in hospital.

As we've said before, there are times when those who are just determined to be the life of the party wind up being the death of somebody else.

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- The Marlborough Express

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