A gun enthusiast who shot his elderly neighbour’s conservatory, causing an air-rifle pellet to “whizz” past her ear, was told by a sheriff today (Friday) that only his ill health had saved him from jail.
Thomas Robinson set up a target at the bottom of his garden in such a way that pellets that missed the back-board could enter 69-year-old Meryl Allen’s garden.
As a result, Falkirk Sheriff Court was told, on a pleasant afternoon in August 2017, a pellet from one of Robinson’s high-powered air rifles, which he used for killing rats, penetrated Mrs Allen’s sun lounge.
Mrs Allen said she was standing at the door of her conservatory in Maddiston when the projectile “whizzed” through the door past her ear and lodged itself high in the back wall of her house.
She said she was “shocked” by the incident, which happened between 4pm and 5pm.
Robinson, of Tarduff Drive, Maddiston, denied recklessly discharging a firearm, but a jury found him guilty last month of exposing Mrs Allen to risk of serious injury by the conduct. The incident occurred on August 30, 2017.
Robinson’s explanation that “an accidental ricochet” had caused the incident was dismissed by the sheriff.
Robinson (57), who is suffering from pancreatic problems and is too ill to work, appeared for sentence today (Friday).
His solicitor Gordon Addison produced testimonials from farmers on whose land Robinson used to control rats and other pests as a pastime.
Mr Addison said: “He is a first offender at the age of 57, he no longer has any firearms and he won’t be granted a licence again — that hobby has gone for him.”
He added: “He was aiming at a board at the bottom of his garden which he had used for sighting guns for some time, but with a silencer on so the neighbours would never know about it.
“His best efforts at explaining what happened is that it was the result of a ricochet — the pellet went sideways into the wall at the back of the conservatory.”
Sheriff Craig Caldwell told Robinson: “I am very sceptical indeed that the article that was ejected from your firearm that day suffered a ricochet and was diverted from its path.
“The arrangement for your target practice was foolishly and inherently dangerous and frankly I’m astonished that someone who has the experience of firearms that you have should have set up such an arrangement.”
Placing Robinson under social work supervision for two years, and ordering him to carry out 250 hours of unpaid work, the sheriff added: “But for your background of health difficulties you’d be going to prison.
“This was an extremely serious offence indeed, with substantial potential to cause very significant damage and significant injury, if not death, to others around you.”
Robinson made no comment to a reporter as he left the court.