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Last Updated: Friday, 21 April 2006, 18:15 GMT 19:15 UK
Man jailed for killing his friend
Dowaine Maye
Dowaine Maye was sentenced to eight years in jail
A teenager has been jailed for eight years for accidentally shooting his best friend near riots in Birmingham.

Dowaine Maye, 19, from Melbourne Avenue, Newtown, Birmingham, pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Aaron James, 18, who died last October.

Mr James was shot in the head as the pair ran away from police after disturbances in the area of Lozells.

Birmingham Crown Court had heard Maye denied murder and possession of a handgun with intent to endanger life.

The prosecution accepted his pleas at a previous hearing.

Mr James died after being shot in the early hours of 24 October in Melbourne Avenue, under a mile (1.6km) from Lozells where rioting had begun two days earlier.

Dowaine Maye stumbled into him as the pair ran and accidentally fired the reactivated semi-automatic handgun he was holding.

Missing gun

Gordon James, father of the dead man, said in a statement: "I'm pleased Dowaine came forward and admitted what he did but I'm still disappointed that he has never told the police where the gun was.

In one sense, this was an absolutely freak event
Timothy Raggatt QC

"The gun is still out there and has got the potential to be used again to harm."

Mr James said he "amazed and disappointed" that people who were with his son after the shooting him left to die.

Mr James was left lying injured on the ground by his friend and given first aid by police.

Timothy Raggatt QC, prosecuting, said there was no suggestion Maye intended to harm Mr James but that he had either been aware of, or was positively reckless towards, whether the semi-automatic gun was loaded or not.

He said an eyewitness to the shooting recalled the defendant being shocked and confused and saying he thought the safety catch was on in the moments after the gun was fired.

Mr Raggatt said: "The strong inference from the physical evidence is that the accused almost certainly bumped into his friend, the gun almost certainly was not on safety, if it had one.

"The effect of the collision was to cause trigger pressure on the finger and the prosecution accept an involuntary act caused the gun to fire. In one sense, this was an absolutely freak event."

'Youthful bravado'

Sentencing Maye, Judge Alistair McCreath gave the defendant credit for voluntarily confessing his crime.

But he said: "You went onto the streets during a well-known disturbance with a gun knowing it to be loaded.

"The material before me makes it impossible for me to accept you had it for a purpose unconnected with the civil disturbance.

"I accept you did not take it with you to cause injury or death but rather as an act of youthful bravado."

Det Ch Insp Keith Wilson, of West Midlands Police, said: "We do not want other mothers and fathers to go through the pain that Aaron's family have gone through.

"We want the support from the community to have such weapons handed to the police, including the gun that killed Aaron."

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