A 50-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder and attempted murder.
After a couple of days of intense media coverage, the suspect’s family have now elected to provide a written account of their version of events.
According to the statement released to the press, the family have been threatened and harassed by the same gang of youths for more than two years.
Initially, the gang would call them on the telephone late at night to humiliate and threaten them. The youths then created aliases for the parents on the internet and published denigrating comments in their name pertaining to other family members.
The family’s statement suggests that much, though far from all, of the aggression was directed at their 19-year-old son. For example, they received messages informing them that “all disabled people will be exterminated”.
Friends and acquaintances were encouraged not to have anything to do with the family.
The 19-year-old son says that he has been exposed to physical and verbal threats at the hands of the moped gang on countless occasions. He too drove a moped and was at one point forced off the road by the youths.
After that incident, the parents stopped letting their son out on the road unaccompanied. But the bullying continued, they claim.
One day, the boy’s mother escorted her son and his friend out onto the road. The moped gang gave chase, forced the mother to stop and ripped open the back door of her car. They then circled around the mother and the two young men on their mopeds.
The family also claims that they have been subjected to repeated property damage and theft. They have had graffiti scrawled on their walls, vehicles have been sabotaged and fences cut open to allow livestock to escape.
Their post box was emptied and sabotaged so many times that they eventually had to apply for a new postal address.
After two years of harassment, the family said they were disappointed that they were not taken more seriously by the police and local authorities. As their sense of resignation increased, they soon stopped registering complaints.
Recently, they say, their son had begun considering a move away from the family home in order to escape what they describe as “the constant terror”.
Early on Friday, the day of the shooting, the 50-year-old father claims to have been out driving with one of his daughters. Three youths on mopeds drove up beside them and pulled open the front door on the driver’s side. Momentarily losing control of the vehicle, the father found himself driving on the wrong side of the road.
Later in the day, the mother was driving into town when she too was followed by the moped gang. The youths drove past, aiming a kick at the vehicle. Verbal threats were directed at the children travelling with their mother, the family claims.
Several times that evening members of the gang called the 19-year-old and threatened to kill him, according to the family. Meanwhile, a friend of the family who was in the house at the time kept an eye out for the gang.
Shortly after midnight, he caught sight of them upending a rubbish bin before making their way into the garden.
At around the same time, the mother arrived home and began parking her car. On spotting one of the youths coming towards her with a plank in his hand, she reversed the vehicle and drove away from the house. She then says she called emergency services and waited for what seemed “an eternity” before speaking to the police.
“I told them there were people in the garden with weapons, that I didn’t dare go in and that the children were in the house,” she said in a statement.
The police promised to send a unit around and advised her to stay away from the house.
Inside the house, her son had also called the police and was told that a car would be on its way. He then kept the police on the line.
The family say that the sense of danger increased as the gang grew ever louder and began approaching the house with their weapons.
The father, who had gone to bed, was disturbed by the noise and got up to go outside.
With the coming trial in mind, the family has chosen not to reveal any details surrounding the father’s actions at this juncture.
But they do note that when he came back inside he took the telephone from his son and told the police that he had shot two people.
After around twenty minutes, a police unit arrived. During the intervening period, the son went outside and took care of the injured boy, helping him to breathe and keeping him company until an ambulance arrived.
The family say they have now left the house and moved to another address where they can try to get some peace and quiet and come to terms with everything that has happened.
They say they are deeply saddened by the events of the weekend and expressed their sympathy for the families of the two boys.
The also point out that they have continued to receive threats over the weekend. They have been told that their entire family will be wiped out and their farm burned down.
Despite the area being sealed off, the family car has been vandalized and there have been messages spray-painted in the yard.