About an hour before Lachlan Johnson fatally shot his 30-year-old neighbour in rural Taranaki, he lit and released Chinese lanterns over a valley near his home.
It was this act, a hobby of the 56-year-olds, that is said to have sparked a confrontation with Mitchell Mosen, and led to Johnson, armed with an illegal semi-automatic shotgun, killing him.
Johnson is defending a murder charge in a jury trial which opened in the High Court at New Plymouth on Monday.
He has admitted unlawfully possessing a restricted weapon.
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In his opening, Crown prosecutor Justin Marinovich told the jury that Mosen was battling brain cancer at the time of his death on August 22.
Lachlan Alexander Johnson is a defending a murder charge in relation to the death of Mitchell Mosen.
He was living with his mother, Patricia Mosen, a nurse, at her Korito Rd home, about 20 kilometres from New Plymouth, and she was caring for him.
The disease had impacted Mosens personality, often leaving him agitated and frustrated, Marinovich said.
About 6.15pm on the night of Mosens death, Johnson, who lived less than a kilometre away, released the lanterns.
Around that same time, Mosen left his home on a 4WD motorbike and soon crossed paths with Johnson.
A confrontation ensued between the pair, which then turned physical.
Marinovich said it appeared the altercation was over the lighting of the lanterns.
Mosen was fatally shot at a Korito Rd address, near Egmont Village, on the night of August 22.
When Mosen returned home, Patricia, who had heard arguing, questioned him on what had happened, to which he replied he had sorted it…and he knows what went on.
In the meantime, Johnson enraged by the altercation, drove to his home and grabbed his shotgun and ammunition belt.
So angered and focused on Mitchell, he drove through a bungy fence across Mitchells driveway.
Shotgun in hand he got out of his car, making his way directly to the front door of Mitchell’s house. There, he pushed past Mitchells mother who was standing at the front door.
Johnson met Mosen in the lounge.
The defendant cocks his gun, getting it ready to fire, and raises it from his side and points it at Mitchell his intended target.
Mosen pushed Johnson backwards, out of the house and on to the porch. Johnson then pulled the trigger, firing a shot into Mosens right foot.
Injured, Mosen struggled with Johnson, who pulled the trigger a further five times.
Four shots hit the porch, but the fifth struck Mosen in the left of his chest, which ultimately killed him.
Police arrived at the rural address around 7pm following reports that Mosen had been seriously injured.
While it wasnt immediately clear to Patricia, who called an ambulance, that Mosen had been shot twice, she worked to treat her sons foot.
Johnson said to Patricia: I’ve only shot him in the foot. Youre a nurse. You fix it.
He returned home, where he left a note for his son saying: I just shot a dude, be good before phoning police.
Realising her son had also been shot in the chest and had started to lose consciousness, Patricia began CPR.
Emergency services arrived and took over, but Mosen was pronounced dead at 7.55pm.
Marinovich alleged Johnson was motivated by revenge and had worked in the struggle to point the muzzle of the gun at Mosen.
This wasnt a mistake. This wasnt done out of necessity. It wasn’t done in accident.
Both Johnson and Mosen were residents of Korito Rd.
The jury would have to consider whether Johnson had intended to kill Mosen or to cause bodily injury likely to cause death and was reckless as to whether death would follow, Marinovich said.
Defence lawyer Nathan Bourke said Johnson had not intended to shoot Mosen in the chest and therefore was not guilty of murder.
Upset over the lanterns, Mosen had beaten Johnson, Bourke said.
Johnson, who was drunk, saw red, got his gun and drove to Mosens house to teach him a lesson.
He drove there, and he got out of his car with a gun and there was a confrontation and Lachlan shot Mitchell in the foot.
This wasnt a thought out plan and Mitchell reacted. He lunged for Lachlan, he lunged for the firearm.
Suddenly Lachlan had the younger, larger Mitchell wrestling him for control of a loaded shotgun.
In that moment, Johnson made the split decision to discharge the firearm, Bourke said.
He wasnt aiming at Mitchell, he wasnt shooting because he wanted to kill Mitchell, he was trying to get rid of the bullets so the gun couldnt be turned on him.
Johnson had no idea Mosen had been shot in the chest until he was informed by police, Bourke said.
Defence accepts the shooting was manslaughter, to which Johnson would plead guilty if that was the charge he was facing, Bourke said.
It was up to the jury to determine whether it was a case of murder or manslaughter, Bourke said.
Lachlan didnt intend something that he had absolutely no idea had happened.
The trial continues.

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