Jailed over airgun death

AMY MAAS
Last updated 12:59 29/11/2013
Zhivargo williams standard
GRAHAME COX / Fairfax NZ
GUILTY PLEA: Zhivargo Edward Blake Williams.

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

Zhivargo Edward Blake Williams, 19, appeared today in the High Court in Auckland where he was sentenced to two years and seven months in jail.

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

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

During sentencing, 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," said Lang.

He however 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 the Auckland suburb of St Heliers where they had smoked a cannabis joint and drank beer. There Williams showed Townsley the air pistol 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 travelled 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 air pistol 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 among shrubs and near a tree stump.

Williams then picked up the gun and said to a friend, "Dude, watch this". He aimed the gun at a can sitting on the top of that tree 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.

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He died in hospital the next day.

- Stuff

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