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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 July, 2005, 10:56 GMT 11:56 UK
Lamping stepfather admits killing
Byron Evans
Byron died from a single .22 rifle bullet
A Devon man has admitted the manslaughter of his 13-year-old stepson during a night-time "lamping" fox-hunt.

Byron Evans, 13, was shot while taking part in the expedition at Lower Cholwell Farm, Harberton, south Devon, on 11 September last year.

His stepfather, Philip Rowe, 50, pleaded guilty at Exeter Crown Court to his manslaughter by gross negligence.

Mr Justice Steel granted Rowe, of Stafford Lane, Colyford, bail and adjourned the case for sentencing.

He will be missed not only by his immediate family but also by countless friends
Debra Rowe

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.

The charge to which Rowe pleaded guilty said he owed a duty to those engaged in a night-time shooting party to take reasonable care that a high-powered rifle was operated safely.

The charge said in breach of that duty he failed to carry out a reconnaissance of the land and failed to give a safety briefing to the party.

He also allowed the party of five to be split up in darkness and allowed Byron to be separated from him, and to remain with two other young men who had no experience of night shooting.

Defence counsel, Paul Dunkels QC, said the gross negligence accepted by the defendant was the act of pulling the trigger without having identified the target with sufficient certainty.

Members of Byron's family were in court to watch the hearing.

'Vivacious pupil'

His natural father, Royal Marine Warrant Officer Wayne Evans, based at the Commando Training Centre, Lympstone, east Devon, and his mother Debra Rowe both paid tributes to their son after his death.

In a statement, Mrs Rowe said her son was "never happier" than when he was enjoying outdoor activities.

She said: "He will be missed not only by his immediate family but also by countless friends and mates."

Rob Williams, Byron's former headmaster at St Peter's School in Lympstone described him as a "popular and vivacious" pupil.

Rowe's sentencing was adjourned until 2 September.


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