The James Creek property where Christopher Lamb was shot  in 2003.
The James Creek property where Christopher Lamb was shot in 2003.

Manslaughter ? Apps pleads guilty to James Creek shooting

ANTHONY Charles Apps will be sentenced for manslaughter this week ? almost two years after he shot fellow Maclean man Christopher Lamb in the head with a shotgun.

After initially pleading not guilty to a murder charge relating to the November 2003 shooting, Apps, 29, yesterday pleaded guilty at the Supreme Court at Lismore to a lesser charge of manslaughter.

Apps is accused of shooting Mr Lamb, 42, in the head at close range with a shotgun at his victim's rented farmhouse near the Harwood Bridge on Sunday, November 2, 2003.

The attack sparked horror in the small Maclean community, with then mayor Chris Gulaptis describing it as disturbing.

"We're a sleepy little hollow and you don't expect serious incidents like this to happen in the township," Cr Gulaptis told The Daily Examiner at the time.

"It is very disturbing for the community."

Police quickly launched a massive investigation that centred on Mr Lamb's red Holden Commodore, which was missing from the farm.

As well as local detectives, specialist units from Coffs Harbour and Sydney were called in to help with a hunt, including the air-wing, driving unit and ballistics experts.

Among forensics specialists called in to help were fingerprint experts skilled in chemical testing techniques and 'incident reconstruction experts' who were asked to create a digital image of the scene.

At the same time, investigators worked through a long list of people from the Maclean and Richmond areas that they wanted to interview.

But the Commodore was the key.

Police found the car ditched in canefields near Maclean five days after Mr Lamb was shot and their suspicions to focused on Anthony Apps, who had known Mr Lamb.

With a squad of 12 detectives working around-the-clock, investigators put Apps under heavy surveillance, monitoring all his activities from November 7 until November 14.

Then, on a Friday afternoon at the carpark of the Lismore Square shopping centre, detectives swooped on Apps and arrested him.

After more than a year in custody and repeated appearances at Lismore Local Court, Apps entered a not guilty plea at his arraignment at the Supreme Court in Sydney early this year.

His trial was to have begun yesterday. Instead he switched his plea to guilty of manslaughter.

Apps, who has a history of mental illness, is due to appear at the Supreme Court at Lismore again tomorrow, when psychiatric evidence is expected to be submitted. He is due to be sentenced at the court after a hearing running over Thursday and Friday.

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