Waihi Beach shooting: Asha Soole convicted after shooting ‘best friend’ Joshua Copestake in face

A 22-year-old has been convicted of manslaughter after shooting his “best friend” in the face at short range in a boastful demonstration last summer, having forgotten the gun was loaded.

In the High Court at Tauranga on Wednesday, Asha Carden Soole, 22, admitted killing Joshua Michael Louis Copestake on January 4 with an illegally obtained shotgun.

The shooting happened in Waihi Beach, across the road from a holiday park packed with campers.

It was just down the road and three days after an unrelated suspicious death – later attributed to a medical incident -had rocked the small seaside community.

According to court documents, Soole and Copestake, also 22, had been friends since childhood.

Soole, who was 21 at the time of the shooting, was living with his girlfriend and a female boarder in Seaforth Rd, Waihi Beach.

In his bedroom, he kept a shotgun and two cartridges.

He did not have a firearms licence and had obtained the gun illegally on December 29.

On the night of the shooting, he went to bed with his partner about 9.15pm after dinner and drinks at a friend’s place.

The boarder came home and told them Copestake – a mutual friend – was coming around for drinks, so they got up and watched TV.

Copestake arrived about 9.40pm and he and the boarder went to get takeaways before going to a shed at the back of the property to eat and start drinking.

Soole

went to get the gun from

his bedroom, according to the documents.

“The defendant and the deceased spoke to each other through the open bedroom window.

“They discussed another group of individuals in the town with whom they had recently had issues.

“The defendant raised the shotgun, closed the breech and rested it on the window ledge.

“He boasted that if the group came to the house, they had the means to see them off.

“For effect, the defendant pulled the trigger, forgetting, and failing to check, if the shotgun was loaded.

“The deceased was standing close to the window and was shot in the mouth from a distance of between 45cm and 70cm.

“The shot was fatal and the deceased died instantly.”

Neighbours, people camping across the road and Soole’s girlfriend called emergency services.

Soole

“made initial admissions to shooting his best friend” to police and witnesses, but later declined to be interviewed on legal advice.

He later admitted full responsibility for the shooting to the police.

“He stated he did not realise the shotgun was loaded and that he did not look down to check if it was loaded before he pulled the trigger.”

In court, Soole was convicted of manslaughter and unlawfully possessing a shotgun

and remanded in custody for sentencing in the High Court at Rotorua on February 3.

As Soole was taken out of the courtroom, a man in the public gallery called out “love you, Asha”.

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