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Wednesday 15 August 2018

Teenager who wanted to kill Queen fired shot near royal motorcade

Queen Elizabeth was targeted in New Zealand in 1981
Queen Elizabeth was targeted in New Zealand in 1981

A troubled teenager who wanted to assassinate Queen Elizabeth during her 1981 visit to New Zealand fired a shot near her motorcade, newly released documents show.

New Zealand's spy agency, the Security Intelligence Service, released the previously classified documents, shedding new light on the incident.

The documents say 17-year-old Christopher John Lewis wanted to kill the Queen but didn't have a good vantage point or a sufficiently high-powered rifle.

He fired a single wayward shot, which probably passed above the crowd.

At the time, police told journalists who heard the noise that it was a sign falling over, and later said it might have been firecrackers.

Police appeared to downplay the seriousness of the incident, and charged Lewis with only possessing and firing a weapon in public.

He would later kill himself at the age of 33 while in prison awaiting trial on murder charges in an unrelated case.

Rifle

When questioned by police at the time, Lewis claimed to be part of a group called the National Imperial Guerrilla Army that was carrying out terror operations.

He said there were two other members called the Snowman and the Polar Bear, but later admitted he had made them up.

The documents say police found a .22-calibre rifle with a discharged cartridge on the fifth floor of a building after Lewis told them it was there.

"Lewis did indeed originally intend to assassinate the Queen," the documents say.

"However, he did not have a suitable vantage point from which to fire, nor a sufficiently high-powered rifle."

The documents say the angle of fire and range would have made it difficult for Lewis to shoot the monarch, and that buildings would have screened her for all but a few seconds.

During a later visit by the Queen, police were said to be so worried that Lewis might make another assassination attempt that they paid him to go on a 10-day holiday to a remote island.

New Zealand news website Stuff said people close to the case thought Lewis got off lightly owing to political interference and worries that New Zealand would lose future royal tours because of the security lapse.

Police said they would re-examine the file in light of the interest in the case.

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