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Teen gun yobs who shot out girl's eye walk free; Victim's anger at lenient sentences.

Byline: STUART GRIFFITHS

A TEENAGE girl who lost an eye after being shot with an air rifle hit out yesterday after the gun thugs escaped being caged.

Callous Stephen Stark, 16 - who fired the shot which blinded her and lodged a pellet in her brain - was given just two years probation and was tagged for six months for the horrific attack.

And co-accused Nicky Lambert, 17, was ordered to carry out 200 hours community service.

Their 15-year-old victim - who sees her attackers in the street nearly every day - fled court in tears yesterday at the lenient sentences.

And she wept: "I hate them both. What they did has changed my whole life. I have to walk past them every day. I cannot believe they were not sent to prison for what they did.

"They have never apologised properly to me and I will have to live with this for the rest of my life.

"Sometimes when I close my eye, I hear a gunshot and it all comes back to me. I am trying to get on with my life but this sentence today is a massive setback."

Her outraged mother also slammed the "miscarriage of justice" at Hamilton Sheriff Court.

She said: "My daughter almost died in this attack. She has had a temporary glass eye fitted and will have a permanent one later.

"A pellet is still lodged in her brain because it is too dangerous to move, but the two thugs responsible have walked free without even an apology."

Reliving the nightmare, the mother added: "She came up the street and was holding her hand over her eye.

"There was lots and lots of blood, over her face, her hair and her jacket.

"I brought her inside and tried to get her to calm down. When I lifted her hand away, there was just a massive hole. I was almost sick.

"She would not have looked out of place in a horror film."

The girl spent six days in Glasgow's Southern General Hospital and had two operations but surgeons could not save her eye .

The teenage yobs - both from Motherwell, Lanarkshire - had been shooting tin cans in woodland before taking potshots at the 15- year-old and two 14-year-old pals with a high- powered air rifle.

One 14-year-old was hit on the arm and scarred for life in the same cowardly shooting.

Original charges against the pair stated the attack was to the danger of the 15- year-old's life.

But that section was deleted when they pleaded guilty last month to assault and firearms charges.

Sentencing Stark, Sheriff Dan Russell, said: "Through your actions in this case the consequences were tragic. I am bound to consider a custodial sentence.

"But I have decided to place you on probation for two years on condition you undertake alcohol counselling.

"A young girl has been left disabled by your actions and that fact should prevent you from committing any further offence."

But the girl's mum hit out: "The sheriff gave her sympathy but sympathy is worth nothing when there is no justice.

"My daughter has changed since this attack. She is short-tempered, has lost some of her co- ordination and has a lot of pent-up frustration.

"I can't describe how I feel about those boys but they never said sorry or tried to find out how she was coping."
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Dec 4, 2002
Words:558
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