Page last updated at 13:42 GMT, Thursday, 17 September 2009 14:42 UK

Air rifle death charges dropped

Rachel Davies
Miss Davies died two weeks after being shot in the eye

The case against three men charged over the death of a teenager who was shot in the eye with an air rifle has been dropped after new evidence emerged.

Rachel Davies, 18, was shot on 7 December last year in Bury, Greater Manchester. She died two weeks later.

The men were charged with possession of a firearm without a certificate.

The case collapsed when prosecutors told Bolton Crown Court tests had found the air rifle could not be classified as a banned firearm under gun laws.

Greater Manchester Police, who led the investigation into Miss Davies' death, said it had also emerged the gun was "defective" and "had discharged accidently".

Stephen Hodgson, 28, of Walnut Avenue, Bury, David Peter McKeon, 27, of Rutland Drive, Bury, and Clint Kirkham, 28, of Wash Lane, Bury, were charged over the death.

Firearms experts

On Wednesday a judge ruled the men had no case to answer.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said the rifle did not meet the criteria of a weapon which needed a licence.

A CPS spokesman added: "During the course of consultation with firearms experts and various tests, it became clear that the weapon used in the tragic death of Rachel Davies did not possess the capacity required to be classed as a prohibited weapon.

"Rachel's family have been informed about the decision not to proceed with the case.

"Our sympathy and thoughts remain with them."

At the time of her death, Miss Davies' mother, Angela, and father, Ricky, said: "Losing such a vibrant, beautiful and spirited daughter in this way is a tragedy without compare for us."

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