Teen tried to assassinate Queen Elizabeth II during 1981 trip to New Zealand, new docs say

New Zealand revealed a troubled teenager attempted to assassinate Queen Elizabeth II during her 1981 visit to the country, newly released documents stated. 

New Zealand Security Intelligence released the documents stating then 17-year-old Christopher John Lewis wanted to kill the queen but did not have a good view or powerful enough rifle. He fired a single wayward shot, which likely passed above the crowd. 

“Lewis did indeed originally intend to assassinate the queen, however, did not have a suitable vantage point from which to fire, nor a sufficiently high-powered rifle for the range from the target,” a memo from 1997 stated. 

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


At the time of the incident, police told journalists who heard the suspicious 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 only charged Lewis with possessing and firing a weapon in public. 

In 1986, police monitored Lewis when the queen visited the country again. They paid for Lewis' vacation to a remote island, gave him a car and spending money. 

Britain Horse Racing - Royal Ascot - Ascot Racecourse - 14/6/16
Britain's Queen Elizabeth arrives at Ascot
Reuters / Toby Melville

The man who attempted to assassinate Queen Elizabeth II allegedly killed himself while awaiting trial.  (Reuterse)

However, Lewis was charged with murder more than a decade after the attempted assassination, Reuters reported. Lewis was accused of the brutal killing of a mother and abducting her infant child. The child was left at a church. 

Lewis killed himself at age 33 while in prison and awaiting trial on murder charges. He allegedly electrocuted himself and left a note following his death denying the murder. 

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 dubbed "the Snowman" and "the Polar Bear," but later admitted he'd made them up.


Britain's Queen Elizabeth arrives at Horseguards Parade for the annual Trooping the Colour ceremony in central London, Britain June 11, 2016. Trooping the Colour is a ceremony to honour Queen Elizabeth's official birthday. The Queen celebrates her 90th birthday this year.    REUTERS/Dylan Martinez  - LR1EC6B0UVYF3

New Zealand police said they would re-examine the case.  (Reuters)

Stuff reported people close to the case thought Lewis got off lightly due to political interference and worries that New Zealand would lose future royal tours due to the security lapse.

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

The Associated Press contributed to this report.