South Shields man shot two teenagers playing football outside his home with air rifle

A man shot two teenagers with an airgun after a long-running row over anti-social behaviour near his home.

Samuel Field and neighbours in the Horsley Hill area of South Shields had made repeated reports to police but the problems persisted, Newcastle Crown Court heard.

On the evening of April 7, after complaints were made to the police again, several shots were fired and a 15-year-old was hit in the head and hand while a girl was struck on the inner thigh. Neither were seriously hurt.

The 29-year-old, who has no previous convictions, pleaded guilty to possessing an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence and common assault.

Samuel Field, 29, pleaded guilty at Newcastle Crown Court. Credit: NCJMedia

On the evening of the incident, Field's partner had made the latest call to officers complaining about disorder.

A group of 10 to 15 teenagers were playing football in lanes around their home and the woman began filming them out of the window in an effort to gather evidence to give to the police.

Kevin Wardlaw, prosecuting, said: "They realised she was making a recording of them playing football and somebody in the group became abusive to the woman at the window.

"She told them, in no uncertain terms, to get away and said she was recording what was going on."

Field then went outside and approached the group, took the football from a 15-year-old boy who was holding it and threatened to hit the group.

Mr Wardlaw said: "The defendant went back in the house and what happened next is captured on a short video clip which shows the defendant come to the window in possession of an air rifle, which he fired towards the youths."

Several shots were fired and the 15-year-old boy and a girl were hit. Neither were seriously hurt and the group ran away.

The boy said in a victim statement: "As soon as I saw him with a gun I knew he was going to do it. He didn't have a right to do it.

"I probably won't go back there now. I don't want this to happen again, anything could happen."

When Field was interviewed by police he admitted firing the airgun, saying he only intended to scare them off, not hit them. He said he had a number of air weapons.

Samuel Field's air weapons. Credit: NCJMedia

Vic Laffey, mitigating, said: "He is someone who is a decent man who reached the end of his tether and did something he accepts was entirely inappropriate. He and other people in the vicinity had suffered a significant amount of abuse, damage to property and the like, from youths in the area.

"He says for about 12 months, sometimes up to ten times a week, he had been reporting this. When, on this particular evening some abuse was directed at his girlfriend he reached the end of his tether and did something extremely foolish, which thankfully didn't result in any serious injury."

Judge Sarah Mallett gave Field a 14-month sentence, suspended for 21 months with rehabilitation. He must also pay £50 to each of the two children he shot and a victim surcharge of £156.

The judge told him: "It was an inappropriate response to a build up of frustration and the anti-social behaviour which impacted on your life. There was no indication the children you hit were responsible for the anti-social behaviour you were complaining about.

"You have demonstrated genuine remorse and have moved and got rid of the air weapons. It's undoubtedly very serious to fire an imitation firearm at a group of individuals, let alone children."

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