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I HID BEHIND DEAD GEESE AS BULLETS WHIZZED BY; Trial told of hunt drama.

Byline: Sally Hind

A MAN yesterday told a court how he feared for his life when a shooting party allegedly came under fire from a hidden gunman.

Owen Jackman told how he packed geese carcases around his body in a bid to protect himself when up to 10 bullets went whizzing towards him during an organised hunt.

He claimed the bullets came within yards of the group who were out shooting birds in a field in Foveran, Aberdeenshire.

Mr Jackman, 50, was giving evidence at the trial of Michael Sutherland, 38, who is charged with culpably and recklessly firing ammunition from a rifle and shotgun in the direction of eight men.

He told Aberdeen Sheriff Court: "I had five geese I had picked up and I pulled them across the whole height of my body, hoping that if a bullet did come in, it might take some of the impact.

"My memory, to the day I go to the grave, would be that I expected to see one of my mates rolling out of the hide with a bullet in him. I was extremely frightened."

Sutherland is alleged to have exposed Mr Jackman, Liam Burke, Patrick O'Sullivan and John Condon to the risk of serious injury or death.

The lives of Peter Butler, Seamus Butler and James and Kevin Lambert were also said to have been endangered on October 26, 2009.

The witness said he and seven pals had travelled from Ireland to shoot geese at Newburgh when their trip descended into chaos.

Through his binoculars, he said, he had spotted a blue jeep in the distance and a man "brandishing" what looked like a rifle with a telescopic lens attached.

Mr Jackman, of Tipperary, said he tried to remain calm when he heard two "dangerous shots" whiz past the group, who were in a hide made of foliage.

But Mr Jackman said he feared for their lives after a third shot came closer and one then passed within 3ft of his head.

"Two of the members of the hide had wanted to leave," he said. "We had to restrain them from leaving the hide."

Fiscal depute Neil Shand asked why the men were restrained.

Mr Jackman replied: "To save their lives."

He said that when the shooting stopped, they hid behind their minibus before police told them to flee.

Sutherland faces a further charge of possessing 230 more rounds of ammunition than he was licensed for.

He is accused of having 530 rounds of ammunition at his home on the same date.

Sutherland, of Hillhead of Foveran Cottage, The New Farmhouse, Newburgh, denies the charges.

The trial, before sheriff Kenneth Stewart, continues.

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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Mar 23, 2011
Words:447
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