16 January 2024

Shooter admits firing gun at car that contained child on suburban Canberra street

| Albert McKnight
man with hand tattoos looking at camera

Chris James Payne has pleaded guilty to shooting at a car on a street last year. Photo: LinkedIn.

A late-night shooter has admitted firing a gun at a car that contained two parents and their child on a suburban street in central Canberra.

Chris James Payne spent months in custody after he was arrested over the shooting before he appeared in the ACT Magistrates Court on Tuesday (16 January) and pleaded guilty to a charge of discharging loaded arms at a person.

The victim had arranged to go to the home of an associate in Turner because the associate was going to help him settle a feud between himself and Payne, who claimed the victim owed him money, court documents say.

At around 3:30 am on 26 May 2023, he drove to the home on Forbes Street with his partner and young child in the car.

He was standing outside his car when he saw Payne come around the corner from behind some bushes with several other people. Payne was holding a black .22 calibre rifle.

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The victim thought something wasn’t right, so he told his partner to get back inside the car and started driving away.

But as he started to leave, he saw Payne point the rifle at his car from only several metres away. He actioned it by pumping the forearm of the firearm.

He accelerated as Payne fired, the shot ricocheting off the car near the driver’s side window.

Payne called the victim’s phone shortly afterwards and spoke to the partner.

“My son was in the f-ing car and you want to f-ing shoot at it,” the partner said.

“I apologise, I apologise,” Payne replied.

Later, Payne said, “Wake the f-k up! Next time, if I do, I won’t f-ing miss”. He also demanded the victim pay him money and tried to get him to speak with him in person.

The victim reported the shooting to police around 4 am and police found a dent above his rear driver’s side window, which was consistent with a projectile ricocheting off the vehicle.

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Police began an investigation but were unable to locate the rifle.

On Tuesday, which had originally been scheduled to be the first day of a hearing to contest the charges, the court heard the prosecution would wait until sentencing before withdrawing Payne’s remaining charges.

The 36-year-old’s lawyer, Peter Agoth of Peter Agoth & Associates, asked for the court to order a pre-sentence report and an intensive corrections order assessment, saying “perhaps substance abuse was a factor” in the offending.

Chief Magistrate Lorraine Walker adjourned until 13 March for sentencing. The roofer has been in custody since he was refused bail in June 2023.

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