NSW barking dogs murder accused acquitted

A man has been cleared of murder after shooting his Parkes neighbour after a row over barking dogs.
A man has been cleared of murder after shooting his Parkes neighbour after a row over barking dogs.

A young man who fatally shot his ice-fuelled neighbour wielding a pickaxe handle acted "reasonably" in self-defence and has been found not guilty of murder.

Justice Stephen Rothman also found Nathan Joseph Price not guilty of Jesse Herridge's unlawful killing on June 24, 2019.

The 20-year-old dressed in full PPE gear for most of his trial after contracting COVID-19 in Parklea prison wiped away tears as his verdict was read out in the NSW Supreme Court on Monday.

Price genuinely believed the shooting was necessary to defend his mother and himself outside their Porter Street home in Parkes, and it was a reasonable response given the threats they had faced, the judge found.

When Price pointed the sawn-off shotgun at his 25-year-old neighbour "one would suspect ... he would have retreated".

"Instead he became more enraged and rushed at the accused," Justice Rothman said.

"The purpose of obtaining the shotgun was ... in order to have the deceased desist from his threats with the pick handle."

The neighbourhood dispute was sparked in the afternoon when a distressed young woman walked past Mr Herridge's home and yelled at his barking dogs.

"Shut the f*** up," she shouted to which the animal owner responded: "You shut the f*** up you redheaded slut".

Price was 18 and living with his mother Tracey Simpson when the anxious woman walked in and said "the young fella up the road had given it to her".

Ms Simpson was described by her son "as someone very protective like a mother hen" and when she went outside the confrontation continued from across the street.

Mr Herridge retrieved a pickaxe handle from underneath his car before running down the road and yelling something like "c'mon then".

His partner of 10 years chased after him calling out to "stop ... but he was not listening," the judge said.

One witness described the male aggressor as "acting staunch".

Ms Simpson said his eyes were "popping out of his head" and he looked as if he "wanted to hurt someone, it didn't matter who it was".

This was due to the high levels of methylamphetamine in his system at the time, unbeknownst to his girlfriend, the court was told.

It was accepted that Price went inside for seconds and returned with the 12-gauge shotgun after Mr Herridge had armed himself with the "formidable weapon," Justice Rothman earlier told the court.

Price later told police: "I told him I had it. I told him to stop. I f***ing gave him his warnings."

But Mr Herridge pushed past Ms Simpson and moved purposefully towards Price while holding the pickaxe handle above his head with both hands, ready to swing.

The pair were as close as 50cm away from one another when Price fired the shotgun at his chest.

"The court is persuaded ... that the accused acted in defence of his mother in obtaining the weapon, and acted in his own defence in discharging the weapon," Justice Rothman said.

The injured man staggered away from the front yard and fell facedown in a gutter where police found him about 20 minutes after the barking dogs dispute.

The Crown argued that Price should have taken other steps such as calling the police to diffuse the argument.

But given they arrived four minutes after they were called, the altercation would have already concluded before they could have intervened, the judge found.

Justice Rothman pointed out that the accused was not required to prove he acted optimally, but that he acted reasonably.

Price was discharged for these offences but waits in prison on an outstanding firearms charge.

Australian Associated Press