Man admits firing air rifle at people in park, injuring young girl

A man has admitted firing an air rifle towards a group of people in a park, striking a young girl.

Children at Parc Llewelyn in Morriston fled for cover as Vincent John Thomas sent pellets "whizzing" through the air in their direction.

Thomas fled the scene but was arrested a short time later at a nearby home.

Stephen Rees, prosecuting, said the incident took place on a February afternoon this year.

He said a number of people in the park heard “cracking” noises which drew their attention to 58-year-old Thomas who was carrying an air rifle.

The court heard Thomas was seen reloading the air rifle then firing directly at a group who reported hearing the pellets as they went past them.

One of the pellets hit a young girl causing her to cry out and shout “I’ve been shot”. She and a number of other children nearby ran into bushes to seek shelter.

Mr Rees said a man in the park rushed at Thomas before he had a chance to reload, and the defendant made off into the garden of a house backing onto the park.

Police were called and Thomas was arrested and a .22 Webley Vulcan air rifle was found in an outbuilding at the address.

He later told officers he had drunk six pints of beer and two cans on the day in question and had not fired a gun before.

The girl he shot suffered a bruise to her hip but the court heard there were no “long-term” effects on the child.

Thomas, of Llewelyn Park Drive, Morriston, pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm with intent to cause fear and assault occasioning actual bodily harm. The court heard he has no previous convictions.

Huw Davies, for Thomas, said the air rifle was one that did not require a licence and was legally held.

He invited the court to follow the recommendations of a pre-sentence report and allow the defendant to get help to address his alcohol problems in the community.

Judge Tracey Lloyd-Clarke told the defendant he had deliberately fired at people in a public park and the matter was so serious only immediate custody was appropriate. She said he had been "extremely intoxicated" at the time of the incident.