Teen found not guilty of murder after judge found he was acting in self defence
A teenager who fired a shotgun blast into his drug-affected neighbour’s chest at point blank range during a fatal altercation over a barking dog has been found not guilty of murder after a judge found he was acting in self defence.
Nathan Joseph Price wiped his eyes as he was acquitted by Justice Stephen Rothman on Monday.
Price was aged 18 when he fatally shot 25-year-old Jesse Herridge outside his Parkes home on June 24, 2019, with the court ruling he was acting in self defence of himself and his mother.
During a judge-alone trial, Price pleaded not guilty to the murder and manslaughter of Mr Herridge, who was wielding a pick handle above his head and threatening a group of people outside his home in central western NSW.
Mr Price’s lawyers argued that Mr Herridge was the aggressor before the teen fired a 12-gauge sawn-off shotgun shell into his chest.
And Mr Price later told police that he delivered several warnings to Mr Herridge before the fatal incident.
An autopsy revealed that Mr Herridge had a toxic level of methylamphetamine in his system at the time of his death, the NSW Supreme Court heard.
“It would seem the aggressive and, to some extent, irrational behaviour of the deceased was a result of the methylamphetamine of which he was affected,” Justice Rothman said.
The standoff outside Mr Price’s Porter Street home erupted after another person commented about Mr Herridge’s barking dogs.
During the argument, Mr Price saw Mr Herridge armed with a timber pick handle, which was about 60cm long, Justice Rothman said.
Mr Herridge was in the middle of a heated verbal altercation with Mr Price’s mother and others when the teenager went to retrieve the gun.
Mr Herridge then pushed past a group of women and was advancing with the weapon held above his head when Mr Price fired the fatal blast into the left side of Mr Herridge’s chest.
Justice Rothman found Mr Price was reasonably responding to the threats made against his mother when he retrieved the gun.
As well, he was acting in the genuine belief that he needed to defend himself when he fired the gun, Justice Rothman found.
“By the time the weapon was discharged, the accused was under significant threat of being injured by the deceased wielding a pick handle. The conduct in discharging the weapon at that time was a reasonable one,” Justice Rothman said.
Mr Price watched proceedings from Parklea Prison wearing a mask and full personal protective equipment, having recently recovered from Covid-19, which forced him into isolation.
While he was acquitted, he remains in prison for the time being because he is set to face Orange District Court next week on weapons charges.
“Do you understand what I’ve done,” Justice Rothman asked.
“Yep,” Mr Price said.
Originally published as Teen found not guilty of murder after judge found he was acting in self defence
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