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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 August 2005, 13:27 GMT 14:27 UK
France nabs gun-toting pensioner
An 81-year-old Frenchman has been given a one-year suspended jail sentence for firing a hunting rifle at helicopters dropping water on a forest blaze.

David Thiel opened fire on 21 July when the low-flying helicopters disturbed his afternoon nap near Grasse in the south of France, court sources said.

During his arrest the man swore at the policemen and hit them with saucepans.

Fifteen hunting rifles were confiscated from his home. The helicopters were beyond the range of the rifle he fired.

The judge, quoted by the AFP news agency, said Mr Thiel should not have shot at water-bombing helicopters "as if they were wild ducks".

He was convicted on weapons charges and for resisting arrest. The south of France, languishing in a prolonged heat wave, has been plagued by forest fires in recent weeks.

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