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Teen locked up for airgunattack.

Byline: Andy Passant

A teesside teenager has been sent to custody for an airgun shooting which left a young girl blind in one eye.

The 14-year-old girl was shot in the face with an air rifle in South Bank in April this year.

Yesterday the teenager who pulled the trigger appeared at Teesside Youth Court where he was given a detention and training order for 18 months. There was no order for compensation.

The 15-year-old from Grangetown, who can't be identified for legal reasons, had admitted causing grievous bodily harm to the 14-year-old girl and having a loaded air weapon in a public place. He also admitted a 'happy slapping' incident, captured on a mobile phone camera, in which his victim was punched and knocked unconscious.

He was given an absolute discharge for offences of drunk and disorderly and two thefts from shops.

District Judge Stephen Earl told him: "This is your first sentence. I appreciate it is a long one but these were serious offences."

Referring to the airgun shooting, he said he was satisfied it was "foolishness which went tragically wrong".

Solicitor Simon Walker said his client had pleaded guilty and had no previous convictions. He said there was a group of teenage boys and girls "messing around" and the airgun, brought by another member of the group, was discharged.

Mr Walker said there was no dispute his client "had a go" with the air weapon but added: "The prosecution accept there was no intention on his part to cause serious injury."

The shooting was the latest in a string of airgun attacks on Teesside, which led to the Gazette launching its Ban Young Guns campaign.

These included the tragic death of Matthew Sheffield, 14, from Eaglescliffe, after being shot in the head with an airgun in 2001.

This week, a 15-year-old Coulby Newham girl was shot in the leg with an airgun, while in separate incidents two ambulances were hit by airgun shots in Middlesbrough.

Detective Sergeant Paul Husband, of South Bank CID, said: "The custodial sentence imposed on this young man shows how seriously the courts view incidents involving air weapons."
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Title Annotation:News Local
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Oct 14, 2006
Words:355
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