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Wednesday, 27 March, 2002, 18:01 GMT
Two jailed over airgun 'blinding'
Nicola Diston shortly after the attack
Nicola Diston has lost the sight in her left eye
Two teenagers who blinded a teenage girl in one eye when she was shot with an airgun have been given custodial sentences.

Judge David Hodson issued a warning against people irresponsibly playing with air weapons after the hearing at Newcastle Crown Court on Wednesday.

Daniel Lumsden, 18, of Donside, Leam Lane, Gateshead, and 17-year-old Damon Davison of Sheraton, also Leam Lane, had admitted unlawfully wounding schoolgirl Nicola Diston.

Lumsden was jailed for two-and-a-half years, and Davison given an 18-month detention and training order.

Quite clearly her life has been ruined and you two were responsible

Judge David Hodson

The court heard how the pair had been drinking before the attack in November 2001 which left their victim, then aged 15, with a pellet lodged behind her left eye.

The pair laughed after the attack which left the schoolgirl in intense pain.

Penny Moreland, prosecuting, told the hearing: "She felt a sharp pain in her face, she believed she had been hit by a stone or a brick and then she heard laughing from behind the fence."

'Gross irresponsibility'

Sentencing the pair, Judge Hodson said Lumsden had drunk eight cans of lager while Davison had admitted to being "a bit drunk" after having four cans.

The judge said: "What happened after that demonstrates the gross irresponsibility of playing with weapons such as this air rifle.

"That shot hit Nicola in the eye with the dreadful consequences you all know about - she has lost the sight of the eye forever.

"Quite clearly her life has been ruined and you two were responsible."

'Not toys'

Julian Smith, appearing on behalf of Davison, said the incident was a "teenage prank which went horribly wrong".

Miss Diston must undergo an operation next month to remove scar tissue from her eyelid, although the pellet remains lodged behind her left eye.

Her mother Sandra has helped raise 18,500 signatures for a petition campaigning to tighten airgun laws, which has been sent to 10 Downing Street.

After the case she said: "I am pleased the judge has reflected how serious this was, and I would like to warn parents who are thinking of buying air weapons for teenagers that these are not toys for people to play around with."

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See also:

27 Mar 02 | England
Gun attack on bus driver
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27 Mar 02 | Scotland
Teenage girl shot in the head
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