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Tuesday, 17 September, 2002, 06:48 GMT 07:48 UK
Airgun campaigners lobby conference
Air rifle
Incidents involving air weapons are rising
The plight of North East victims of airgun attacks is to be highlighted at the forthcoming Labour Party conference.

Over the past 18 months a Teesside teenager has died and a Tyneside girl has lost an eye in air weapon attacks.

Now a delegation, headed by councillors from Gateshead, is to ask Labour's executive to press for tougher laws on air weapon ownership.

The government has said it is willing to re-examine airgun laws, but the North East delegations wants swift action.

Nicola Distin
Nicola Diston lost the sight in her left eye

Matthew Sheffield, 14, from Eaglescliffe, Stockton-on-Tees, died in April 2001 after being shot in the head by a friend.

Daryl Allison, 14, was found guilty of manslaughter and is awaiting sentence.

Nicola Distin, from Gateshead lost her sight in one eye when she was shot by two teenagers in November 2001.

Two teenagers were given custodial sentences after they admitted unlawfully wounding the then 15-year-old.

Gateshead East and Washington West Labour party secretary, John McElroy, said: "Following tragic incidents in Gateshead and other parts of the region, we have campaigned hard for greater controls over air guns.

"So far we have received a positive response from the government.

Matthew Sheffield
Matthew Sheffield died in an airgun incident

"We are hopeful of a successful review of regulations relating to the licensing of air guns and the age of those legally able to buy and use them."

Bob Goldsworthy of the Heworth and Pelaw Labour Action Team, added: "Highlighting this issue at the Labour Party conference will help to urge the government to act promptly.

"We want the government to prevent further incidents leading to death or injury by bringing forward legislation in the next session of Parliament.

Joyce Quin said: "The campaign for greater control of air guns is reaching a very crucial stage.

"I am confident the conference in Blackpool later this month will react positively."


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09 Sep 02 | England
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