Australia Christopher Cunningham's third court trial sees him jailed over shooting in Canberra's south

09:00  02 december  2021
09:00  02 december  2021 Source:   abc.net.au

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news, crime, Canberra , court , ACT, trial . A man accused of firing several bullets at a group during a street scene claimed the alleged victim, whom he shot and caused a “significant amount of blood”, “threatened to blow my head off first,” the court has heard. Christopher Cunningham , 30, went to the ACT Supreme Court on Tuesday, denying guilty of intentional grievous bodily harm and unauthorized possession of a gun. He also filed the same plea to shoot with a gun to cause fear to the person, a backup charge for a bodily injury charge.

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Justice David Mossop said Christopher Cunningham had shown © Provided by ABC NEWS Justice David Mossop said Christopher Cunningham had shown "no remorse" over the shooting on Freda Gibson Circuit in Theodore. (ABC News: Tom Lowrey)

A 34-year-old man charged over a shooting in Canberra's south in 2019 has been sentenced to nearly four years in jail after being tried for the crime three times.

Christopher Cunningham eventually pleaded guilty to a charge of committing an act endangering life and unauthorised possession of a firearm.

He was originally charged with attempted murder, but that charge was dropped.

The juries in Cunningham's first two trials were dismissed, and the third trial had already been running for seven days when Cunningham agreed to plead guilty.

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'No need for him to involve himself'

The ACT Supreme Court heard the victim, referred to as Grot, was shot in the leg as Cunningham fired a gun six times on Freda Gibson Circuit in Theodore in March 2019.

Justice David Mossop said the shooting had occurred over the enforcement of a drug debt.

The court heard Cunningham had been helping a third man who was in a dispute with the victim.

On the evening of March 2, the victim had arrived at the man's house with five or six friends who had all been at a birthday party.

One of the men told the court the party "went for three days" and was drunk at a level of "11 out of 10".

The man said he knew the victim, but did not remember telling police he saw that he had been shot.

"I do not even recall last week," he said.

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'I saw that his rifle was pointed to the sky and the butt was in his shoulder. He fired only air shots and so it is impossible that Staff Corporal Hutchings shot Mr Cunningham .' The witness came forward after reading about Mr Hutchings' earlier court appearances. They cite the discrepancy in targeting soldiers while suspected IRA terrorists walk the streets of Northern Ireland and beyond, having been handed so-called 'On the Run' letters. They were effectively 'get out of jail free' cards, ex-soldiers say.

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Today, Cunningham's lawyer Margaret Jones told the court the evidence showed that the victim had been yelling out to the man he believed had owed him money, before threatening to come back and shoot him in the head.

She said that was when Cunningham had fired, first in the air and then from about waist height, not aiming at anyone in particular.

"It's a very dangerous act, and the consequences clearly could have been worse," she said.

"It was very unfortunate one of the shots hit [the victim] but very fortunate it hit him where it did."

Ms Jones said she was not excusing the act, but noted there had been no premeditation.

But Justice Mossop said there was some degree of planning because Cunningham had brought a gun to an anticipated confrontation.

He also noted it was unclear why Cunningham had become involved in the dispute.

"There was no need for him to involve himself in this role," he said.

"The offending demonstrates a significant escalation for him.

"He has shown no remorse."

Cunningham has already served more than a year in jail for the crime, but will not be eligible for parole until 2023.

Justice Mossop has urged those considering parole to establish whether he has continued his links to an outlaw motorcycle gang before his release.

Charges were dismissed against a second man, Benjamin James Moarefi, who had been charged with aiding and abetting after the shooting.

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usr: 2
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