NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Shooting party man 'feared someone would die'

A man has told a court how he feared someone was going to die when a shooting party in Aberdeenshire came under fire.

Owen Jackman was giving evidence at the trial of Michael Sutherland, who is charged with culpably and recklessly firing a rifle and shotgun in 2009.

The weapons were allegedly discharged in the direction of men who were out shooting birds in a field in Foveran.

Mr Sutherland, 38, of Newburgh, denies the charges at Aberdeen Sheriff Court.

Mr Jackman, 50, described how he packed the carcasses of dead geese around his body in a bid to protect himself when bullets came towards him during an organised hunt.

Mr Jackman said: "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."

He said he and seven friends had travelled over from Ireland to shoot geese.

Mr Jackman said he had spotted through his binoculars a man brandishing what looked like a rifle with a telescopic lens attached.

He said: "Two of the members of the hide had wanted to leave. We had to physically restrain them from leaving the hide."

'Save their lives'

Fiscal depute Neil Shand asked why the men were restrained.

He said: "To save their lives."

"Fear got so great for me in the end 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.

"I was thinking like someone who had lost the plot. I thought of other incidents around the world where people had been shot."

Mr Jackman said that when the shooting stopped the group abandoned most of their equipment and sheltered behind their minibus before police advised them to leave.

Mr 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, James Lambert and Kevin Lambert are also claimed to have been endangered in October 2009.

The trial, before Sheriff Kenneth Stewart, continues.

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