Hagley Park shooting 'imbecilic, moronic'

DAVID CLARKSON
Last updated 15:35 04/04/2014

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A 23-year-old man's actions were called imbecilic and moronic when he was jailed for five years for shooting a rival in a Hagley Park confrontation.

The defence had described the case as "excessive self-defence" but Lance John Ross had pleaded guilty to charges of unlawful possession of a firearm, recklessly discharging the weapon, and firing it with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

He was in a car with friends, when there was a confrontation with another vehicle during what appeared to be a night of cruising the city.

Judge Raoul Neave said: "The friends and associates you were with at no stage exercised one ounce of common sense, individually or collectively."

He said that after shooting the victim in the chest with a .22 rifle - a shot that exited the victim's back below the shoulder blade after apparently ricocheting off a rib - Ross was lucky not to be standing in the High Court for sentencing on a murder charge.

Family and friends had come to court to support Ross at his sentencing, and personal references were handed up to Judge Neave.

Ross had childhood issues with learning, but the pre-sentence report was favourable and he had no previous convictions. He was seen as a low risk of re-offending, said defence counsel Phillip Allan.

Judge Neave said the incident arose from unusual circumstances on the night of August 10, and he reduced Ross' sentence because of the complainant's contribution to the violence that took place.

It began with a confrontation when the two vehicles pulled up at some traffic lights.

The victim was a passenger in the other vehicle. Ross recognised him as the ex-boyfriend of one of the women in the car Ross was in.

The complainant got out of the other car and punched out the rear window of the van Ross was in. When the vehicles drove off, the victim sent a threatening text.

"Unfortunately, you and your friends then decided to up the ante," said the judge. They picked up a .22 rifle and ammunition from Ross' place. The judge described that decision as "a piece of imbecility".

About 3.30am, the van passed the other car in Harper Avenue and the driver stopped, when any sensible person would have kept on driving.

The victim came up to the van and punched his ex-girlfriend, knocking her down.

Ross then pointed the rifle out the smashed back window and fired a shot into the air. He then fired the second shot that hit him in the chest.

The judge described Ross' actions as being "stupid to the point of being absolutely moronic".

Passersby would have been put in danger by the shots. The judge referred to "the use of guns to sort out disputes that would have looked juvenile in the playground".

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The victim had spent five days in hospital and still suffered from breathlessness and pain. The victim impact statement was moderate and displayed some understanding.

He said the victim should consider himself lucky if he had not been charged over the incident himself.

Judge Neave reduced Ross's sentence because of the contribution of the victim, the lack of previous convictions, and the guilty pleas.

- The Press

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