Samuel McLean, of Greenville Avenue in Ballymoney, Co. Antrim appeared at Coleraine Magistrates Court for sentencing in recent days, as reported by the Belfast Telegraph, facing charges of criminal damage.
The accused, who hunts foxes, was charged over the mistaken killing of a 10-year-old girl’s Shetland Pony Maisie. The 30-year-old hunter was hunting foxes on the night in question via the ‘lamping’ technique when he spotted what he thought was a fox. The courts heard that Mr McLean shot what he thought was the fox, before losing it and shooting the animal again upon its reappearance.
This second shot is the one which resulted in the death of the pony, Maisie, at Castleroe near Coleraine. The courts heard from Mr McLean’s defence lawyer, who claimed he had mistaken the foal for a fox due to it only being 18-months old. The defence also added there was a dip in the hill where the offence occurred.
McLean’s lawyer said once the Ballymoney native realized what had happened, he set off to try and locate the owners.
“There never would have been any prospect of a ballistics trace on his rifle. He could have fled and he could have evaded responsibility." He told the courts.
Judge Peter King then warned the hunter that he was now likely to lose his firearms licence as a result of the incident.
"Those who enjoy shooting and hunting as a sport are perfectly entitled to do so. However, with that sport comes significant obligations.” He said.
"Unfortunately, you have failed to handle your firearm in a responsible manor." Judge King continued.
Samuel McLean was then sentenced to 120 hours of community service, whilst also ordered to pay £500 to the owners of the pony. Rhonda Burns, the mother of the girl who owns the horse, describe the incident as the “worst trauma any child could ever suffer”. She noted in the social media post that her “family are devastated”.
Picture - Belfast Telegraph