A bet over whether the Earth is flat or round between 36-year-old Jamie Mathew Sutherland and his friend Louie Lanz, whom he has reportedly known since primary school, has led the two to go to court over murder threats. Sutherland has been charged with threatening to kill his acquaintance, who supports a conspiracy theory that the Earth is flat, and his father, after Lanz refused to pay up on the wager on 14 February.
It all began during a dinner two months prior, when Lanz said that he would bet $6,400 that the Earth is flat. The local outlet Otago Daily Times reports that, according to the accuser, Sutherland “quickly jumped on that bet”, they shook hands and he said “you owe me NZ$10,000”, but the Flat-Earther disagreed.
When they bumped into each other sometime afterwards, Sutherland repeated that he ''wanted his money''.
"He was starting to make threats in order for me to pay up. I believe I've won. I believe I'm right…I told him many times it was just a joke bet ... the way I said it was in a joking manner; he just didn't take it that way”, Lanz told the court.
As he pointed out during their later meeting, Sutherland became ''more forceful''.
''[He said] if you don't pay it I'll get a crossbow, I'll shoot you and your father, put you in the trunk and they'll never see you again", the accuser said, according to the outlet, noting that it shocked him and prompted him to tell his father about the argument.
At the same time, he told the court that he does not want the matter to proceed, expressing hope that his alleged offender “is doing better and we can all just move on”. In turn, Defence Counsel Kieran Tohill insisted that the accuser had not threatened his rival and did not own a crossbow. Following the short restorative justice meeting, the judge dismissed the charge, finding that there was no case to answer, while Sutherland apologised and pledged to have put up with not being paid for the bet.