Page last updated at 13:22 GMT, Monday, 8 June 2009 14:22 UK

Mercy to father over airgun death

Rashid Ullah
Rashid Ullah died in hospital a week after being hit by a pellet

A man whose air rifle was used to shoot his toddler son dead when he left it unattended has walked free from court.

Bakht Zaman, 30, of Washwood Heath, Birmingham, was given a conditional discharge after admitting causing the the death of 23-month-old Rashid Ullah.

The Birmingham Crown Court judge said he would "apply mercy" as no sentence would punish Zaman more than his guilt.

Another child fired a pellet from the gun, last August, when Zaman answered a telephone call, the court heard.

Zaman, of Bennetts Road, had pleaded guilty to causing or allowing the death of his son at a previous hearing.

'Decent father'

He was given a two-year conditional discharge by Judge William Davis QC.

The court heard Zaman had been firing the air rife, which he held legally, at empty cans as target practice before the incident on 24 August.

Another child, who cannot be named for legal reasons, fired the air weapon which Zaman had left with its safety catch off when he went to answer a phone call.

The very fact of the reporting of this case will tell decent fathers, such as you, of the need to be on your guard at all times
Judge William Davis

Rashid died in hospital a week after suffering a traumatic brain injury caused by a pellet.

Judge Davis QC told Zaman he had done something "momentarily stupid" by not putting on the safety catch.

"Within a matter of seconds a child had fired the gun, plainly not deliberately aiming at anyone, but tragically striking your very young son," he said.

"What on earth could I do to punish you for what happened because your punishment is your guilt at what your momentary inattention did?"

Ordering Zaman to pay £580 costs, the judge added: "I think this is a case where I have to apply mercy.

"Nothing that a criminal court can do, can do any more to punish, to teach, to reform you, to protect your family, than your own guilt as to what happened that afternoon.

"The very fact of the reporting of this case will tell decent fathers, such as you, of the need to be on your guard at all times."



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