Teen's burns unintended: Defence

By Corey Charlton

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Pouring petrol on a 16-year-old and setting him alight was stupid, idiotic and reckless, but it was not done with the intention of seriously injuring the victim, a court has heard.

Matt-Dillion Shannon yesterday took the stand to give evidence at the High Court in Napier, in a trial which he is accused of causing grievous bodily harm with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

At Shannon's 17th birthday party in August 2011, a then 16-year-old was held down while Shannon poured petrol on him, before setting him alight with a cigarette lighter, an idea influenced by the Jackass movies.

The victim had taken the stand on Monday, to allege a petrol can was used to pour petrol on him. But yesterday Shannon, who worked at a petrol station at the time, claimed it was only a shot glass full of petrol taken from the near-empty petrol container.

The court heard how the shot glass of petrol had been poured earlier as a dare for somebody to drink, but no one took up the challenge. Shannon also said the victim hadn't been held down for 20 seconds.

"He wouldn't have been held any longer than five seconds once it was alight.

"The way I see it, is if he had been held down for that long [20 seconds] surely someone else would have been burnt," he said.

"If I could take it back, I would in a heartbeat. I can't even describe how stupid it was, but there is so many things that I wish I could take back and that would just take the cake."

Crown prosecutor Russell Collins' closing argument said the victim had been subject to bullying. "It was pack mentality, that's what it was," he told the jury. "Yes it was stupid, but because it was stupid it doesn't mean it wasn't intentional."

Defence lawyer Bill Calver reminded the jury to be absolutely sure of Shannon's guilt.

"This was about the most stupid practical joke you could imagine, but it was nevertheless intended as a practical joke."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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