Newport father jailed after boy posing with gun shot

Image caption,
Michael Hole admitted possessing the illegal firearm and child cruelty

A man has been jailed for five years after his 15-year-old stepson accidentally shot himself in the head while posing for photos with a gun.

Michael Hole, 50, of Newport, earlier admitted charges of child cruelty and possessing an illegal firearm.

He failed to check it was loaded before asking Lewis Bailey to put the weapon against his head for the pictures.

Lewis made a "remarkable recovery" but may suffer future medical problems, Cardiff Crown Court heard.

Martyn Kelly, prosecuting, said the Beretta .25 pistol went off, shooting Lewis in the temple at point-blank range at their home in the Somerton area of the city.

"Lewis came home from school and he was told by his stepfather to keep his jacket on," Mr Kelly said.

"Hole then said, 'Do you mind taking a picture with the gun to your head for my friend?'

"Lewis did what he was told and held the gun to his head and pulled the trigger. He described a buzz and then he collapsed."

Hole, a father-of-four, saw his stepson having a fit on the bedroom floor and dialled an ambulance.

The court heard he told the operator: "A little boy has shot himself in the head. Hurry up - he's dying."

He then fled the family home before paramedics arrived to find Lewis in a pool of blood but still conscious.

The court heard he told them: "I held it to my head for a photograph while my stepdad took a picture."

Mr Kelly said: "Hole left the house taking the gun and his mobile phone with him. The phone was never recovered so we don't know what pictures might be on it."

Hole visited family to change his clothes before putting the gun in a drain and destroying his phone.

The court heard that he was found nine hours later by police when he was arrested for attempted murder.

Mr Kelly said: "Lewis regards himself as being lucky, healthy and fortunate in his family."

Lewis's mother Edwina, who married Hole four years ago, was in court to support her husband.

In a letter to the judge, she appealed for leniency and described Hole as a "wonderful father."

Image caption,
Michael Hole told police he had found the gun in a field

She said: "We've been through difficult times and sometimes it has been almost impossible to cope. But Michael had been the glue that holds this family together.

"Michael has an excellent relationship with Lewis and he misses Michael and does not wish him to go to prison."

Jailing him for five years, Judge Nicholas Cooke QC said: "This is a terrible tragedy for all concerned."

Det Chief Insp Steve Mogg, senior investigating officer, said: "He is a very lucky young man.

"For somebody to be shot in the head and survive without any long-term effects is absolutely amazing, nothing short of a miracle.

"A millimetre one way or the other and it might have been a different story.

"This case highlights that guns are dangerous weapons and you can't treat them as toys or play around with them as they did.

"No-one should encourage young people to think guns are fun. It's outrageous and irresponsible."

He said Hole claimed he discovered the loaded gun on a sports field where children play football and dog owners walk their pets.

DCI Mogg said: "The gun was in a very poor state. There was no safety catch and it was loaded with a single bullet.

"Mike Hole had a duty of care to that young boy and he failed."

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