Nathan Campbell pleaded not guilty to causing grievous bodily harm to Phoenix Newitt. (ABC News: Laura Beavis)
A Tasmanian jury has been asked to determine whether a 26-year-old man intended to cause grievous bodily harm when he shot an 11-year-old girl who was hit while sitting in the back of a parked car last year.
Nathan Richard Campbell of Deloraine has pleaded not guilty to causing grievous bodily harm to Phoenix Dawn Newitt by shooting her with a rifle at Deloraine on August 29, 2017.
Phoenix was hit in the right ear, causing a wound that extended into her temple and brain and bullet fragments entered her heart and lungs.
She was flown to the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne where she underwent lifesaving surgery.
In his opening statement today in Launceston, Crown prosecutor John Ransom told the jury there was no dispute Mr Campbell had fired the shot that injured Phoenix or that she suffered grievous bodily harm.
However, he said the jury must determine what Mr Campbell’s intent was when he fired the gun.
Mr Ransom said Phoenix was seated in the back of a car driven by her uncle, Zachary Newitt, when she was shot.
He said Mr Newitt had driven to Stagg Court where Mr Campbell lived and had shouted abuse at him following a physical altercation outside a supermarket between Phoenix’s mother, Sarah Newitt, and Mr Campbell’s partner, Brearna Mansell.
“It is not the state’s case that we say that Mr Campbell intended to shoot Phoenix Newitt,” Mr Ransom said.
However, he said Mr Campbell was subjectively reckless when he fired the .22-calibre rifle.
“Mr Campbell foresaw the likelihood that grievous bodily harm might result, but not caring or being indifferent to that result he fired the gun at the motor vehicle anyway,” the jury was told.
Accused ‘took positive steps to avoid injury’
Mr Ransom told the jury they would view an interview recorded by police with Mr Campbell the day after the shooting in which he made admissions.
“[Mr Campbell] says he made a decision to shoot at the front of the car itself, not in the air, not above the car, but at the car itself,” Mr Ransom told the court.
In his reply, Mr Campbell’s defence counsel, Evan Hughes, urged the jury not to be influenced by emotion or outside reports.
He said Mr Campbell did not act recklessly.
“Nathan Campbell carefully considered how he discharged that firearm, took positive steps to avoid injury, and the fact that injury occurred was unfortunate, unintended and unforeseen,” Mr Hughes said.
The jury will hear evidence from about a dozen witnesses, including Phoenix’s mother and uncle, and is expected to take three or four days.
About six of Mr Campbell’s family members and friends were present in the court room.
The trial continues.