4 May 2023

Shooter found guilty of trying to injure man on street in suburban drive-by

| Albert McKnight

Connor John Manns faced a jury trial in the ACT Supreme Court. Photo: Facebook.

The shooter in a drive-by has been acquitted of trying to kill a man he fired at on the street, but he has been found guilty of trying to seriously injure him in the incident.

The 12 jurors in the ACT Supreme Court trial for Connor John Manns deliberated for over a day before returning to the courtroom on Wednesday (3 May) to announce their verdicts.

Manns’ supporters in the courtroom’s gallery gave loud sighs when it was announced he had been found not guilty of a charge of attempted murder, then he nodded at jurors when they said he was guilty of an alternative charge of attempting to intentionally inflict grievous bodily harm.

Afterwards, one of his supporters began to cry in the courtroom’s gallery.

Justice Chrissa Loukas-Karlsson adjourned until 11 May to begin organising a sentencing date.

The trial for the 25-year-old, who is in custody, began last week before closing arguments were heard on Monday.

Defence barrister James Maher said his client had admitted firing the gun on a quiet suburban street, which was “something that is quite uncommon in Canberra”, but argued he had intended to scare his victim.

READ ALSO ‘I’ve killed before and I’ll kill again’: Queanbeyan murderer sentenced over brutal assault on guards

Jurors heard the incident had its beginnings several days prior, when Manns had apparently done nothing to stop a fight that had broken out in front of him between two women.

The partner of his victim had been there as well and intervened in the fight. Afterwards, she and Manns got into an argument, during which he sent her messages accusing her of “talking s-t” and telling her, “I’m going to make the people you love cry”.

“I’ll do life for this, IDGAF [I don’t give a f-k],” he said.

The victim also got involved in the argument and Manns made comments to him like, “I’ll put nine holes in you …”.

The victim eventually agreed to meet up for what he thought was going to be a fistfight.

In the early hours of 21 November 2021, he was walking along the street in Casey to the meeting when Manns, driving a Volkswagen Golf, spotted him.

While still driving, Manns fired two shots out the window from a .25 calibre pistol. The victim hid behind a tree while Manns made a U-turn, drove back and fired a third shot.

None of the bullets hit the victim and only one of them was recovered from the scene.

Afterwards, Manns messaged a friend to say, “I tried to kill him last night, times three at the head” and, “His temple was in the sight three times bro, all of them missed”.

It was alleged the messages Manns sent to the victim and the friend would show he had the element of intent that was required for the charge of attempted murder.

READ ALSO Wife who shot sleeping husband in head found guilty of murder

However, Mr Maher argued his client had a clear track record of being duplicitous or “talking s-t”.

He also said the only bullet that had been recovered at the scene had been fired at a low angle, so the logical conclusion was that it had been fired at the road or footpath, which was consistent with the argument that he was trying to scare the victim.

Manns has pleaded guilty to a charge of using a carriage service to make threats regarding the messages he sent to the victim’s partner.

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