Boy shot dead: 'a bad joke gone wrong'

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Nov 29, 2007
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Relatives of a 14-year-old boy allegedly killed by his best mate say the shooting was "a bad joke gone wrong" and murder charges must be dropped.

Josef Cruickshank's aunt Rita Ferraro said the family considered his death, from gunshot wounds during a weekend sleepover, to be an accident.

The Sydney family hoped police would drop a murder charge against Josef's best mate, who is also 14 and cannot be named.

"He's hurting. He didn't even mean to do it," Ms Ferraro said.

"It was just an accident, a bad joke gone wrong. I don't know, I wasn't there, [but] we know the love that these boys had for each other. They were best friends since preschool.

"He doesn't need to suffer any more than what he is. We want the boy to know that it's OK. We're here for him."

A family friend, who wanted to be known only as Nathan, knew both of the boys and said: "The whole family know it was an accident."

Josef's mother Rosemary Cruickshank said she had pleaded with police not to charge Josef's mate, who made a frantic triple-0 call after the shooting.

She said she didn't want a second young life destroyed.

Paramedics tried desperately to save Josef after being called to a rural property on Silverdale Road at Orangeville, in Sydney's south-west, about 10.15pm on Saturday.

Josef, who had gunshot wounds to the face and neck, was conscious when ambulance officers arrived but died a short time later.

His friend was charged with murder after declining to make a statement to police on legal advice and has been bailed to face Campbelltown Children's Court on January 5.

A spokesman for the NSW Attorney-General's office said the murder charge was a matter for police, but they could consider the family's views in deciding whether to proceed.

"They'll listen to something, but they're under no legal obligation to not go ahead," he said.

He said the teenager could face an alternative charge such as manslaughter.

"It depends if he had any kind of criminal intent. Obviously all those things would be considered," he said.

The shooting has prompted NSW Premier Nathan Rees to look at the state's gun laws, but he says he will only make changes if it is proven that stricter measures are required.

Mr Rees said he had sought a report on the teenager's death and a string of weekend drive-by shootings in Sydney.

"If there are things that we need to do, then we will do them to reduce availability or tighten up provisions relating to gun ownership and control and safe keeping of firearms," he told reporters today
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