Judge accepts that woman was shot by accident

A Rathfriland man who shot a woman on the hip with an airsoft pellet gun, has been conditionally discharged for two years, after a judge said the court accepted he didn’t intend to fire it at her.

Appearing in the dock at last week’s Banbridge Magistrates Court for sentencing was George Burns (18) from Downpatrick Street in the town.

Deputy District Judge Mr Dunlop said he “didn’t want to minimise” the experience of the injured party, but he did not feel Community Service was the only option available to the court.

A PPS prosecutor explained how on 29 August last a woman left the Homeland Diner restaurant in Downpatrick Street , Rathfriland, to take a phone call.

As she was standing outside the restaurant she felt something strike her left hip and thought she was stung.

However upon inspection she discovered a red welt the size of a ten pence piece with a white centre and bleeding.

Witnesses at the scene said they heard something coming from premises opposite and police enquiries led them to Burns.

He admitted having the air soft pellet gun and said he had bought it at a fair in the town.

He said it must have gone off accidentally out the window and struck the woman.

Earlier this month the court heard that Burns has a previous record and has been cautioned for theft.

His solicitor said this was a toy gun brought by his 11 year-old brother for £4 and the description of an airsoft gun was a “little misleading.”

Last Thursday, Burn’s solicitor said his client and his client’s younger brother had been playing hide and seek and were sneaking up on each other and shooting each other with the toy gun.

“The window was open and it must have gone off out the window.

There was no intention but he accepts he could have exercised a greater degree of care.”