THREE young men were drinking beers in the back shed of a home at Raymond Terrace in the middle of the night in May when Tane St John Morton pulled out a .22 calibre pump action rifle and suggested they all go rabbit shooting.
But a short time later, after the three men had loaded into a car and were headed for nearby bushland, St John Morton leaned out the back window and fired three shots into a home in Benjamin Lee Drive.
If the cracks in the middle of the night came as a shock to the sleeping residents of Raymond Terrace, they were a bolt from the blue for the two other men inside the car with St John Morton, who told police they had no idea he planned to shoot up a house. "Next thing you know Tane fired the gun out the window of the car," Bailey Jay Godeschalk told police after his arrest. "Me and [Bryson Viner] were just like what the f---? What happened? Why would you do that for?"
Incredibly, those at the house peppered with bullets slept through the whole thing.
They only called police the next day when they noticed bullet holes in the front door and some minor damage to a table and wall in the entryway of the house.
Police launched an investigation and say they identified Viner's vehicle as being of interest, tracking him down and finding a .22 calibre bullet casing in the rear footwell of his car.
Next, police arrested St John Morton, who admitted to firing the gun out of the moving car. That same afternoon someone handed the firearm into Raymond Terrace police station. It had been disassembled and cut into four pieces.
A few days later police spoke to Godeschalk, who, like Viner, said he thought they were going rabbit shooting and had no idea St John Morton planned on shooting at a house.
The three men were all charged with firing a firearm at a house with disregard for safety, a serious offence which carries a maximum of 14 years in jail.
St John Morton pleaded guilty and will be sentenced in Newcastle District Court next year.
The prosecution withdrew the more serious charge against the other two men, accepting they had no knowledge of St John Morton's intention to shoot at the house, and they pleaded guilty to firearm possession offences. While St John Morton will be sentenced in Newcastle District Court, the other two men will remain in Newcastle Local Court, where they face lesser maximum penalties.