27 Oct 2010

13-year-old boy convicted of manslaughter

6:54 am on 27 October 2010

A judge has convicted a 13-year-old boy over the manslaughter of an 11-year-old boy on a farm in the East Coast.

The boy and his father appeared in the Gisborne High Court on Tuesday following a fatal shooting inland from Tolaga Bay in July last year.

The 13-year-old, who has name suppression, was originally charged with murder and his father faced a charge of being an accessory after the fact.

The court was told the shooting happened after the boys began arguing over who should take a knife on a planned hunting trip.

A trial was due to start on Tuesday. However, following an agreement between the Crown and the defence, the prosecutor asked that the charge against the boy be reduced to manslaughter, to which he pleaded guilty.

The charge against the father was reduced to perverting the course of justice, in asking his son and a 17-year-old witness to the shooting to make false statements to the police.

Justice Miller agreed to the reduced charges, but said he had to decide if the 13-year-old, who is still legally a child, could be convicted of manslaughter.

He told the court the test is whether the Crown can prove a child knows the difference between right and wrong.

Justice Miller said after considering a report from a doctor and four teachers at the boy's school, he was satisifed that is the case.

The father and son entered guilty pleas and have been remanded on bail for sentence on 7 December.