Lawtons secured a very favourable outcome for a defendant who shot a friend when he was playing with a loaded rifle when he was jailed for just 28 months.

The 27-year-old fired a bullet that went through the victim’s body and ended up in the wall of a flat in Luton.

The injured man, who had only gone to the flat in Marlow Avenue to smoke a cannabis joint, spent 6 weeks in a medically-induced coma while doctors operated on him, Luton crown court heard. The defendant was first arrested for attempted murder and possession of a firearm, for which the maximum sentence would have been life imprisonment, with a minimum sentence of 5 years for just possessing a prohibited firearm.

However, the CPS were persuaded to accept guilty pleas to less serious offences than were originally alleged and the defendant pleaded guilty to wounding contrary to Section 20 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 and possessing a firearm without a certificate on the night of 26 Novemberlast year.

Prosecutor Nigel Ogborne said the victim had been out for a meal with his ex-girlfriend and her mother and then went on his own to a friend’s flat in Marlow Avenue to smoke cannabis.

His friend, the defendant, was there and after half an hour he produced a double-barrelled rifle from under some cushions.

“The defendant was playing with the gun and pointed it in his direction. He was only about 3 metres away. The next thing there was a loud bang and the defendant said: ‘Oh God. S…”, said Mr Ogborne.

The lead bullet hit an artery and vein in the man’s bowel before passing through his body and landing in a wall.

The prosecutor went on: “He said it felt like an electric shock and he fell to the floor. The defendant grabbed him, took him out of the flat and dumped him on the street.”

An ambulance was called by someone else in the flat and the victim initially told paramedics he had been stabbed. It was obvious, however, that he had been shot, said Mr Ogborne.

Paramedics first took him to the Luton and Dunstable hospital before he was transferred to the specialist liver and pancreas unit at Addenbrooke’s in Cambridge. He underwent operations to his small bowel and was eventually sent back to the Luton and Dunstable hospital before being released on Boxing Day. He needs life-long treatment for his injury.

In a victim person statement, the man said: “He left me there to die.” He said he has become anxious and worries about what will happen to him.

Defending, Alex Britton of Lawtons said that a week before the shooting his client had been paid £200 to look after the gun.

“He didn’t know how it worked and was fiddling around with it. He accepts he was utterly reckless. He did not intend it to happen and feels awful.

“He panicked and was in shock and took him down to the entrance to the flats so he could be treated more easily. He told someone else to call for an ambulance and accepts he ran away. That was a cowardly option,” he said.

Mr Britton said his client had disposed of the gun on rough ground near the railway line. After his arrest he took the police there, but it had disappeared.

He said the defendant, who had completed a 3 year engineering course at Barnfield College, had always worked. He said his parents own a property in Bulgaria and he wants to go there on his release to carry out work.

Mr Britton told the judge he came from a respectable family who are shocked by what happened. He handed the judge letters from two of his sister and one from the defendant.

Jailing him, Judge Richard Foster told him: “You are very fortunate you are not here for manslaughter. To your good fortune he did survive although he was very seriously injured. You caused very serious life-changing injuries.

“You hid the weapon which has now been removed and is probably in the hands of someone who should not have it. ”

This case illustrates the importance of expert representation and advice and how that can affect the outcome of a case and help achieve a favourable outcome in all the circumstances.

If you or anyone you know is facing serious assault or firearm related offences, contact us immediately to see how we can help you.