Fox hunt turns sour after shooting buddy hit in knee

A FARMER has avoided a conviction after accidentally shooting his companion below the left knee.

Ronald Justin Everitt thought his rifle was empty after spotlighting for foxes.

He held his .204 rifle by the stock and was removing it from a carry bag on April 13 last year when it discharged.

The bullet went through the end of the carry bag, a car seat and floor mat before hitting another man, 32, in the leg.

Solicitor Paul Robb said in Albury Local Court yesterday Mr Everitt had bought the rifle second hand from an Albury gun dealer and was unaware it had a hair trigger.

Mr Robb argued there should be no conviction, considering his client’s contribution to the Brocklesby community.

Mr Everitt, 32, of Aintree Park, Howlong, pleaded not guilty to carrying a firearm in a manner likely to injure someone, but guilty to failing to safely keep a firearm.

Magistrate Tony Murray dismissed the first charge after legal argument.

He imposed a two-year bond without conviction and told Mr Everitt: “There is a concession made by you that you should have taken more care.”

“You are very lucky that no one was seriously injured.

“I regard this as a temporary aberration.”

Police went to Mr Everitt’s property about 9.20pm and saw a man lying on the ground with a blanket over him.

Ambulance officers immediately started to treat him when they arrived.

Mr Everitt told police he had been taking his rifle from the back seat of his vehicle when it discharged.

He had intended to put lens covers on the rifle and take out the bolt.

He took hold of the rifle by the stock behind the trigger.

When detectives later interviewed him, Mr Everitt said: “I assumed it was empty.”

Mr Robb tendered references for Mr Everitt, outlining his involvement with cricket at Brocklesby and the rural fire brigade.

The gun was bought for the eradication of vermin.

“He believed the gun was not loaded and the safety was on,” Mr Robb said.

Mr Murray ordered the rifle be forfeited.