Peter Colwell death: Two jailed over car shotgun death

Peter Colwell
Image caption Peter Colwell was killed instantly when the shotgun went off

A gamekeeper whose gun accidentally went off in the back of a parked car, killing a teenager, has been jailed for seven years.

Peter Colwell, 18, died in the car park of the Ship Inn in Llanbedrog, Gwynedd, in February 2017.

Ben Wilson, 29, of Ely, Cambridgeshire, who owned the shotgun, was found guilty of gross negligence manslaughter at Caernarfon Crown Court on Wednesday.

Mr Colwell's father told the court his son's death had "destroyed our family".

Ben Fitzsimons, 23, of Nanhoron, Pwllheli, who was cleared of the same charge, was jailed for two years after he was found guilty of possessing a loaded shotgun in a public place.

Jailing Wilson and Fitzsimons on Thursday, Judge Rhys Rowlands said Colwell had "the misfortune to be in the car with you on what should have been an enjoyable night out".

"He was happy and expected to have his whole life ahead of him. Instead he lost his life wholly needlessly that night in what was an accident waiting to happen.

"No sentence I can pass will go near reflecting the loss to his family, or the value of Peter Colwell's life."

Image copyright North Wales Police
Image caption Ben Wilson (l) and Ben Fitzsimons (r) were jailed for seven and two years, respectively

In a victim impact statement, Mr Colwell's father Robert Alan Jones described the shock when a police officer called at his home in the early hours to tell him his son had been killed.

"My daughter Kimberley won't sleep by herself," he said.

"Peter's death has destroyed our family and nothing will be the same ever again."

Mr Colwell's mother Fiona Brett said her son was "a charming little boy".

"No-one except those involved will ever know exactly what happened that night. But Peter will never come back," she said in her statement.

"He had his whole time ahead of him. But he will never have chance to make a career, to meet someone and fall in love, to have children of his own."

Image caption The shooting happened in the car park of the Ship Inn at Llanbedrog, Gwynedd

Judge Rowlands told Wilson his attitude to guns was "appallingly lax" and there had been other occasions when he left a loaded shotgun in his car, propped up in the same position as the night Mr Colwell died.

"Drinking and guns don't mix. A gun is a lethal weapon and no-one should be in charge of one having drunk several pints," he said.

He added Wilson had a "long-standing and blatant disregard for the rules of gun safety, either through arrogance or ignorance".

Following the sentencing, Det Ch Insp Gerwyn Thomas said: "The tragic death of 18 year old Peter Colwell was totally avoidable and has left his family devastated.

"This case demonstrates the catastrophic consequences that can follow when people show an arrogant, casual disregard for basic gun safety and the privilege afforded them of holding a gun licence."

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