Monday, April 14, 2008

19-Year-Old Charged With Death of Friend

A sad case of inhalant-related death has led to a trial in Blenheim, New Zealand beginning today. Tristian Beckett, 19, is charged with the manslaughter of his friend, Thomas Hillman, 18, back in October of 2006.

The two teenagers along with three friends were in a two-door car inhaling LPG, or liquid petroleum gas. They were passing around the canister when Tristian flicked a lighter, causing an explosion.

Glenn Marshall, the prosecuter, was quoted in One News describing the incident:

"Blue flame rolled around the ceiling of the vehicle. All the occupants panicked and you can imagine that there was pandemonium in the vehicle at the time with people screaming trying to get out of the car."


Crystal River, the owner of the car, said that they had been joking about the risks of dying and what they would do if one of them got into trouble,

"Then we were talking about lighting (cigarette) lighters and Thomas had his huff and Tristian flicked the lighter."

She cried when she talked about the explosion and getting out of the car. Thomas Hillman had been sitting behind her. She said,"I didn't pop the seat," and that she saw Tristian pulling Thomas out of the car. After that, she witnessed Tristian returning to the car for the LPG bottle, turning it off, and taking it down the street.

Alixandria Hilliard, another passenger, thought she remembered Thomas "partly walking beside the accused and being partly dragged to safety," while making grunting noises.

The court is trying to prove whether or not flicking the lighter went beyond carelessness into gross negligence.

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