Teenager denied parole after Jackass stunt

MATT SHANNON: Still poses a risk.
MATT SHANNON: Still poses a risk.

A teenager who poured petrol on an acquaintance and set him alight has been denied parole a second time, with the parole board feeling he may still pose a risk.

Matt Dillon Shannon, 19, had his second Parole Board hearing last week. He has been in jail since November 2012, having been sentenced to three years' imprisonment after a jury found him guilty of intentionally causing grievous bodily harm.

Shannon was celebrating his 17th birthday at his home in Hastings in August 2011. Shortly after midnight, he poured petrol over a 16-year-old and set him alight with a cigarette lighter as three others held him down.

Shannon claimed to have been copying a stunt he had seen on a Jackass movie.

The boy suffered severe burns to his neck, back and face. He stripped off his burning T-shirt and rode his bicycle home before being taken to hospital and the intensive care unit.

Charges of causing grievous bodily harm against the other teens were thrown out in the High Court at Napier last year after Shannon told a jury he could not be certain they had been the ones who had held the victim down.

The board's decision said Shannon had completed a six-month drug treatment programme, in which he says he had opened up, gained confidence and improved self esteem.

He acknowledged he was dependent on cannabis at the time of the offending and now had strategies in place to deal with that.

He has been a good worker, has a minimum security classification and is drug free.

''Mr Shannon has done well in custody. He has grown up. He has taken responsibility for his offending, and that is amply displayed in the letter he wrote to us,'' the decision said.

''For the first time he has been able to talk about the issues in his background which allowed him to offend in the dreadful way that he did."

The board said it was conscious of Shannon's youth and the progress he had made. ''However, we are not satisfied that he has reached the point where his risk is not undue. We are concerned that he be assisted with re-integration and that that be taken slowly and carefully."

The board will see him again in November.

The Dominion Post