Drive-by victim 'feared for his life'

By Kelli Hooks -
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Chris Eric Hamlin, 24, of Levin, appeared in Masterton District Court earlier this week and pleaded guilty to unlawfully discharging an air gun in a public place.
Chris Eric Hamlin, 24, of Levin, appeared in Masterton District Court earlier this week and pleaded guilty to unlawfully discharging an air gun in a public place.

A pedestrian hit in a drive-by air gun shooting said in a victim impact statement, read in court, that he had feared for his life.

Chris Eric Hamlin, 24, from Levin, appeared in Masterton District Court earlier this week and pleaded guilty to unlawfully discharging an air gun in a public place.

Prosecuting Sergeant Garry Wilson said on January 22 Hamlin was a passenger in a car being driven on Chapel St, Masterton, when he pointed the gun out a window and fired, hitting a pedestrian.

The court heard how the air pistol was designed to look like a replica of an automatic pistol and could easily be mistaken for the real thing.

"The victim thought it was a real pistol that was being pointed at him... [Hamlin] said in explanation he had been demonstrating the pistol," Mr Wilson said.

The victim realised the air gun was not a real gun when he noticed he was being hit by orange plastic pellets.

Defence lawyer Virginia Pearson said Hamlin had made "a stupid mistake".

Judge Bill Hastings made reference to the man's victim impact statement, saying he "immediately thought the air gun was a real gun...when he first saw you pointing the pistol at him he feared for his life, he says the incident left him feeling shaken and upset".

Judge Hastings convicted Hamlin and sentenced him to 150 hours' community work.

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