Man used air rifle to shoot bird in Sunderland street

Steven Thompson leaves Sunderland Magistrates' Court.

Steven Thompson leaves Sunderland Magistrates' Court.

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Police were called to a Sunderland street after a man shot dead a pigeon with an air rifle and then was spotted carrying the weapon.

Steven Thompson, 39, had various practice targets set up in his back garden in Hewitt Avenue, Hollycarrside, Sunderland magistrates heard.

Police attended following reports of a male with a firearm. When officers arrived, the defendant is seen hanging out the side of a vehicle with that weapon

Laura Lax, prosecuting

And on April 7, he spotted a pigeon on a tree beyond his garden, in Edgmond Court, and decided to shoot it with his Weihrauch Sport HW100 air rifle, the court was told.

Prosecutor Laura Lax said: “The incident occurred at the defendant’s home address.

“Police attended following reports of a male with a firearm.

“When officers arrived, the defendant is seen hanging out the side of a vehicle with that weapon.

“He told them he has shot and killed a pigeon which had been on a tree across from the boundary of his premises. He claimed it had been on a branch overhanging his property.”

Miss Lax said that, despite this claim, the dead bird had fallen from the tree and ended up on the other side of the fence, off Thompson’s property.

The court heard Thompson was worried a child might find the bird where he had shot it.

“He decided to collect that bird and has driven around to the rear of the property,” Miss Lax added. “During which time he was carrying the weapon.”

Thompson, of Hewitt Avenue, Ryhope, pleaded guilty to possession of a loaded or unloaded air weapon in a public place, namely Edgmond Court, and killing a non-Schedule 1 wild bird. A further count of firing an air weapon beyond premises was withdrawn.

However, he also admitted an absconding charge.

Heather Bolton, defending, said: “Mr Thompson is the owner of an air weapon. He had it in his garden. He has a number of targets around his garden which he uses to shoot at. On this particular day, he says their was a bird in a tree. The branch overhanging into his garden and he shot it.

“The bird then fell beyond his boundary and he has driven around to pick up the bird and then driven back around. He didn’t want a child to see the dead bird.”

The case was adjourned for a pre-sentence report to be prepared by the Probation Service and Thompson will be sentenced on July 12.