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Last Updated: Friday, 2 September 2005, 17:11 GMT 18:11 UK
Lamping stepfather is sentenced
Byron Evans
Byron died from a single .22 rifle bullet
A Devon man who accidentally shot and killed his step-son during a night-time fox hunt has received a nine-month jail sentence, suspended for two years.

Philip Rowe, 50, had already pleaded guilty to manslaughter by gross negligence when he appeared at Exeter Crown Court.

Byron Evans, 13, was shot during the expedition at Lower Cholwell Farm, Harberton, in September 2004.

Rowe, from Colyford, may have mistaken the boy for a fox, it was said.

The practice of lamping involves hunters shining bright lights to locate and identify their prey.

Police suggested at the time that Byron may have been mistaken for a fox.

Byron, a boarder at Trinity School in Teignmouth, died in hospital in Exeter after being hit by a single .22 rifle bullet.

Rowe and Byron were part of a five-strong shooting party that set out on a night-time lamping expedition to kill foxes on the farm, the court heard.

No sentence that I could pass would add to your current and, I suspect, continuing misery.
Judge Graham Cottle

Rowe had a powerful gun and another member of the group had a bright light, which he shone at foxes to transfix them and make them an easier target.

Prosecutor Phillip Mott QC said: "Philip Rowe was the oldest member of the shooting party.

"He was the one who had a high-powered rifle with a range of three or four miles.

"During the course of that evening, the party split up. Mr Rowe lost his sense of direction and shot at what he thought was the eye of a fox, and killed his stepson Byron Evans instead."

The court heard that Rowe was a gun enthusiast who had considerable experience of shooting in the countryside by day and night.

'Continuing misery'

Passing sentence, Judge Graham Cottle told Rowe: "Before making a proper identification you fired and tragically killed your stepson.

"And you accept by your basis of plea that to discharge the shotgun as you did was a highly reckless act with devastating consequences.

"Of course, I recognise and understand the dreadful loss felt by Byron's parents, his close relatives and his friends, and nothing that I can say or do will begin to compensate them for his loss.

"I should not and do not forget your own feelings of loss. Mrs Rowe speaks in her victim impact statement of you loving Byron as your own."

He added: "You are a man who has displayed and who continues to display a sense of guilt which is quite beyond any comfort.

"No sentence that I could pass would add to your current and, I suspect, continuing misery.

"That is a greater punishment than I could ever impose."




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