French 'hunter' who shot girl, 10, fined

The man was found to have accidentally shot the girl using a rifle, from his back garden

A French man in his 70s who accidentally shot and seriously injured a 10-year-old girl has been handed a three-month suspended prison sentence and €450 in fines.

The correctional court in Limoges (Haute-Vienne, Nouvelle-Aquitaine) found the man to be guilty of causing involuntary injury due to deliberate violation and lack of security or due care.

He was also handed three fines of €150 each, for hunting without a licence, on someone else’s land, without insurance. All of his guns have now been confiscated.

The incident took place on a Sunday in September 2018. The man was working in his workshop in his garden in Limoges, when he spotted a pheasant near the garden hedge.

The man took out his 22 long rifle, aimed, and fired at the animal.

In doing so, he also accidentally shot a 10-year-old girl, who was picnicking with her family on the other side of the garden hedge. She received injuries to the liver and her left kidney, and spent four days in hospital as a result.

Inquiries into the case found that the bullet had gone through the pheasant, hit a rock, and ricocheted back to hit the girl.

Initially, the man did not cooperate with the inquiry, and said that he could not have shot the girl because he was, he said, “firing in the opposite direction”.

Yet, when the prosecution indicated that this “non-cooperative” attitude could make him appear guilty of shooting the girl intentionally, the man confessed to the real turn of events.

The court heard the man apologise “as a father and a grandfather”, for what had happened. He said that he could not see the family “because of the hedge”.

His defence lawyer, Philippe Clerc, said: “He does not dispute that an offence has been committed. But once we admit that he should not have picked up the gun, if we look at the consequences of the action, we see that it only took place due to a series of improbable circumstances.”

Yet, the family’s lawyer, Olivier Pécaud, said the events were still very serious. He said: “Even the action of hunting is very serious. We cannot go hunting just as we might go to the shops. [This case] gives the impression that the man who committed the offence almost did it on purpose.

“One day, the public authorities must sort out the problem of hunting. It can have dramatic consequences, especially in an urban setting.”

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