Islamic Refugee escapes punishment for shooting man who racially attacked him

Refugee escapes punishment for shooting man who racially attacked him

A Burmese refugee has escaped punishment for shooting a man who racially abused him and his friends.

Soe Bai, 20, was at a petrol station in Palmerston North on June 5, when the occupants of another car began hurling racial slurs at his group.

Bai and his friends quickly drove off, but they returned minutes later with air rifles, a kind of gun that launches pellets with compressed air rather than a firearm which uses chemical reactions.

Bai, who grew up in a refugee camp in Thailand and moved to New Zealand last year, was one of two men to discharge the rifle, firing two shots which hit the car and a passenger inside.

The victim, who sustained injuries to his left arm, was briefly hospitalised, but did not require ongoing treatment.

Bai cried in the dock in the Palmerston North District Court on Thursday as defence lawyer Fergus Steedman revealed the struggles his family had faced.

His charge of reckless discharge of a firearm would be wiped if he did not appear in court again in the next 12 months.

“The court is allowing you this one mistake and to think very carefully about this sort of behaviour in the future,” judge Stephanie Edwards said.

“You acted without thought as young men of your age often do. Based on the information in front of me, I believe you won’t be in front of the court again.”

Bai, whose mother had mental health problems, was raised by his older brother and took responsibility for what happened.

“The victim acknowledged that he and his friends provoked what happened and that their actions were not to their credit.”

Steedman said Bai was a “strictly observant” Muslim and visited the mosque, a place of worship, five times a week.

“The defendant has tried to live a good life and has the [right] moral framework.”