11 and a half years for attempted murder

Steven Nicol, pictured in 2011.
Steven Nicol, pictured in 2011.

An Otorohanga man will serve a minimum of six years in jail after being found guilty of shooting a man in the head near Raglan.

Steven Robert Nicol, 32, was given a total 11-1/2 year prison term for offences that also included two burglaries, theft of a motor vehicle and unlawful possession of a firearm. He committed those offences while on the run from police for 10 days in April last year.

Nicol was found guilty of attempted murder by a jury after a two-day trial in the High Court in Hamilton in May.

He had earlier pleaded guilty to the remaining charges.

It's not Nicol's first time before the courts. In 2011 he admitted stealing a 150-kilogram, 300-year-old church bell from Otorohanga's St Bride's Anglican Church. It was recovered a few days later at an Auckland scrapyard.

The shooting came about on April 18 after Nicol drove to an Ulster St house where he asked the victim, Christopher Young, to go for a ride.

The pair ended up in Cogswell Rd and as Nicol reversed into a layby, he asked Young to open the door and check that he had enough room.

As Young turned his head back into the pickup truck, Nicol fired a shot from a .22 sawnoff rifle.

After firing the shot, Nicol fled the scene while Young jumped into the driver's seat of the stolen Holden Rodeo and drove himself to his aunt's house in Churchill Ave, Maeroa, before collapsing on her front porch.

The bullet landed in the front of Young's skull and remains there to this day.

Nicol, who was high on methamphetamine at the time, had denied the charges, claiming the victim had shot himself in the head.

Nicol's counsel, Matthew Bates, told Justice David Collins today that his client had been active while in custody and completed many courses and had gained a job in the prison kitchen.

The offending had finally sunk in with his client and he was remorseful for what happened, Bates said.

However, he noted that Young was no stranger to the courts and the pair had been "mingling in some undesirable circles ... and [Young] came off second best in a confrontation".

Justice Collins said Nicol's theory that Young had shot himself didn't make sense due to the trajectory of the bullet, so it was clear that the jury made the right decision.

He noted that it was "remarkable" that Young didn't haemorrhage to death after being shot.

It remained unclear why Nicol had shot Young, however he could only concede that he did it deliberately and with some forethought, Justice Collins said.

However, Nicol was a person "of some qualities" who had a good work history.

Justice Collins ordered that Nicol serve a minimum non-parole period of six years.

Waikato Times