IT wasn’t the first time the two boys had gone shooting together.
As Ryan Saccutelli would later tell police, he and Ryan De Angelis — or “Ryno” as he often called him — had ventured out “maybe 10, maybe more times”, sometimes with their fathers and sometimes just the two of them.
The 16-year-old Wodonga boys had in fact already been out once that day - November 1, 2010 - with Ryan’s father, Gus De Angelis.
They all took shots at rabbits in the mid-afternoon, Mr De Angelis shooting two and Mr Saccutelli three — Ryan missed.
Yesterday, Mr De Angelis sat in the front row of the Wangaratta Coroner’s Court public gallery as the inquest into what happened later that day unfolded.
He sat alongside Mr Saccutelli, now 19, and his family and friends — the Saccutellis and De Angelis families are still friends, a fact the court would hear Mr Saccutelli was “grateful” for.
Mr Saccutelli stood in the witness stand as he heard his statement to police three years ago read back to him and at the end, wiped tears from his face.
The trio returned about 4pm to Mr Saccutelli’s grandparents’ property, across the road from the hilly paddock they’d been shooting in.
The two families were preparing for a barbecue dinner and, as “the sun started getting over the hill”, the boys decided to go for another shoot.
Their fathers granted permission and they set off, some time about 6.30pm — the sun “had just gone down, but it was still light and clear”.
As they walked uphill, they stayed a few metres apart, Mr Saccutelli on the right and Ryan on the left.
Ryan spotted the fox first, standing to their left about 50 metres away — he took aim, fired and missed.
Mr Saccutelli said he was looking through the rifle’s scope at the fox with his right eye, his left eye closed, and he followed it as it moved slightly to the left over the ridgeline — and shot.
He saw Ryan fall to the ground about one to 1½ metres from him and rushed over to him.
“I saw blood coming out of his head, on the top of his head,” he said.
“I tried talking to him, yelling at him to wake up ... I was screaming out for help.”
He placed his friend in the recovery position, like he “was taught in school”, and when his mother rang his mobile phone he told her to call an ambulance.
She, and then emergency services, told him to put pressure on the wound and “don’t let go”.
“I put my hand on his head over the blood. It was pouring out,” he said.
His father, Mr De Angelis and a neighbour quickly arrived and took over first-aid until the ambulance came.
Later, as Sen-Constable Anthony Short would tell the court, his father initially told police that he was with the boys.
He recanted soon after, saying: “I’m just trying to protect my son”.
“I’m responsible for them, they only have junior permits,” Sen-Constable Short was told.
Detective Acting Sen-Sgt Kevin Coughlan said in his tendered statement that both Mr Saccutelli and Mr De Angelis were “equally responsible as licensed shooters to be present”.
“Given the devastating circumstances of the incident and the summary nature of the offence within the Firearms Act, a prosecution of one or the other or both was meaningless,” he said.
“No matter how often the authorities press the point, it is an unfortunate fact that boys in the country will go shooting without the presence of a licensed shooter.
“The death of Ryan De Angelis was a tragic accident.”