Teen jailed for setting boy on fire

Matt Shannon. Photo / Duncan Brown The Jackass-influenced teenager who doused a boy in petrol and set him on fire has been sentenced to three years in prison.

Matt-Dillion Shannon, 18, was sentenced in the High Court at Napier this morning for his role in a horrific attack which left a 16-year-old in hospital with burns to his back, neck, shoulders and face. A jury found him guilty of causing grievous bodily harm with intent after a three-day trial in September.

Shannon's defence lawyer Bill Calver had argued the incident was a practical joke, or stunt, influenced by the Jackass movies that went horribly wrong. Shannon had pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of causing grievous bodily harm with reckless disregard, but denied the intent.

During the trial the court heard how the victim, an acquaintance of Shannon's, was held down and covered in petrol in a bedroom during Shannon's 17th birthday party on August 13, 2011.

The victim had been ill with glandular fever and the loud music at Shannon's party was giving him a headache so he went and sat down in the room. But while resting, several people entered the room and he was held down, doused in petrol and set on fire.

"He got a lighter out and I remember saying 'Matt, please don't do this' and he lit it," the victim said during the trial.

"The pain was like nothing you'd ever imagine you could possibly feel. I was screaming for about 20 seconds while I was held down."

After he managed to get up and take his shirt off, he said he was screaming and asking for help but "everybody was just standing round laughing" before one person helped pat the fire out.

At the time, Shannon worked at a petrol station.

During the trial, Crown prosecutor Russell Collins described it as a cynical act of bullying and pack mentality.

- Hawke's Bay Today

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