Page last updated at 11:15 GMT, Thursday, 30 April 2009 12:15 UK

Paintball shooter avoids prison

Alan Weir
Alan Weir told the court he felt like his eyeball had 'exploded'

A paintball centre worker who fired into a colleague's eye, damaging his sight in a "moment of madness", has avoided jail.

Calvin Blyth fired a paintball gun he thought was empty at Alan Weir's face while cleaning guns in a shed.

It happened at the Ape Paintball centre in Ratho, Edinburgh, last September.

Blyth, 20, was given 150 hours community service at Edinburgh Sheriff Court after being found guilty in March of culpable and reckless conduct.

He just picked up a weapon system and shot it at me without checking there was nothing in the barrel system
Alan Weir

Sheriff Michael O'Grady said: "There is enough evidence for me to conclude that the consequences for Mr Weir are serious."

"You are a self-evidently decent, hard-working and otherwise law abiding young man and I have no doubt your actions on that day could be characterised as a moment of madness.

"I find it very difficult to see, given your circumstances, how it could be in the public interest for you to serve a prison sentence."

Mr Weir, a 24-year-old former soldier who had started work at the centre the day before, spent a week in hospital and has had operations to save his eye.

The pair were working without protective masks in a shed at the centre on the Dalmahoy Estate, cleaning and carrying out safety checks on guns.

Witnesses told the trial Mr Weir pointed the gun at his own face and twice fired it into his own mouth.

Lifelong problems

He then fired an empty cylinder at Blyth, a senior paintball marshal who had worked at the centre for 14 months.

Irritated, Blyth picked up a weapon he believed was empty and fired it towards Mr Weir in retaliation, knocking him to the ground.

Mr Weir told the court: "He just picked up a weapon system and shot it at me without checking there was nothing in the barrel system.

"It felt like my eyeball just exploded."

Blyth, from Addiston Lodge, Ratho, said the gun he used had been in storage and should have been empty.

He now works part-time as an administration assistant at a hotel, his lawyer told the court, and occasionally works at the paintball centre.



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