Shots fired as family feud erupted at property
IT IS common for siblings to fight, but it's not very often one fires off warning shots.
In a trial in Rockhampton Magistrates Court yesterday, witnesses gave evidence of a 40-minute stand off that led to Tyler Ewing Skenner firing two gun shots into the air to allegedly force his sister, her boyfriend and a male friend to leave the family home on Somerset Rd, Kabra, on October 2.
Skenner told the court he and his pregnant girlfriend Caitlyn, a witness for the defence, arrived home about noon that day before they got into a loud argument with his sister, Erin.
What the actual argument was about seems to have been forgotten, but Tyler, Erin and Caitlyn all gave evidence that the girls did not like each other.
Skenner said he had told Caitlyn to go to the shed and calm down.
After this, Tyler and Erin went into the house and the argument escalated, at which point Erin said they slapped each other, the court heard.
Tyler Skenner, who pleaded guilty to charges of illegal firearm possession and dangerous conduct of a weapon, said he went off to cool down with Caitlyn at the shed. No other person was charged in relation to the incident.
After he left Erin said she called her boyfriend, Slade Smyth, who arrived shortly afterwards by car with his friend Brandon Christensen.
After they arrived, a tirade of yelling, insults and threats ensued between the two parties.
Skenner claimed at one point he heard the two men yelling and calling his name so he walked to the door of the shed and heard Christensen say "I'm going to smack your head in”.
Skenner told the court he grabbed a blunt machete from the shed when he saw Christensen walking towards him with a metal tyre iron in his hand.
Skenner said that at some point, Caitlyn tried to get between him and the others to stop the argument.
From here, the court heard differing versions of events.
Skenner said he went to the house to get his phone to call the police. Caitlyn said Christensen and Smyth had "run back to the car” and then Skenner left.
Caitlyn said Erin punched her in the head and she fell to the ground. Erin said she and Caitlyn got "into a fist fight” but Caitlyn did not fall to the ground.
Skenner told the court he "lost it” when he saw his sister and his girlfriend fighting and grabbed a shotgun from inside the house.
Skenner said he was 20-25 metres away from the men when he fired the first shot into the air directed away from all parties to scare them off and he fired the second shot five minutes later as his sister and the men had not left the property.
However in conflicting evidence, Erin said when they heard a shot, they froze and jumped into the car and drove off.
The court heard all this took place over a 40-60 minute period.
Police prosecutor Sergeant Kathy Stafford asked Skenner why he didn't just call the police instead of firing the gun.
He said he wasn't certain they would leave as he felt they were the type of people who would not back down from a fight and would attack when a person when their back was turned.
Defence lawyer Brian McGowran argued Smyth and Christensen were trespassing and threatening violence and that his client, as the occupier, was in his right to defend himself and his pregnant partner by firing a warning shot.
"This entire case is completely backwards,” he said.
Skenner pleaded not guilty to illegal possession of a firearm and dangerous conduct of a weapon to cause fear or harm and guilty to possession of ammunition, with Mr McGowran arguing his defence was self-defence.
Sgt Stafford argued that there was no defence as both parties had been armed, plus Smyth and Christensen had gone back to the car, attempting to leave when the shots were fired.
The case was adjourned while Magistrate Mark Morrow considered Mr McGowran's argument.