Airgun accident claim settled

Former Sunderland player John Oster has finally reached a settlement with the Black Cats team-mate whose career he ended in a freak shooting accident.

Reserve defender Mark Maley needed emergency surgery when he was shot in the eye by an airgun pellet at Oster's Durham home in April 2002.

The pair were involved in horseplay with the gun – which they believed was not loaded – when it accidentally discharged.

The injury ended Newcastle-born former England Schoolboys captain Maley's career at the age of just 21.

Now Oster has confirmed the pair have reached an out-of-court settlement over the accident.

He told The Guardian: "The air rifle was just a freak incident.

"We were larking about in my flat on a Sunday morning and I thought the safety catch was on. It went off and it hit him in the eye.

"It was strange to say the least because it didn't fire straight at the best of times. I thought he was messing about and then I realised his eye was bloodshot.

"I immediately phoned for an ambulance and we went straight to hospital.

"I haven't spoken to him for a while. I had a claim against me which has just gone through, so I have had to go through the process of using solicitors because he sued me; that had been going on for a few years.

"We settled out of court which we have just agreed. We were mates, it was a complete accident and he's not in any way bitter towards me, but the fact is that he had to finish his career because of me."

Lincolnshire-born Oster arrived at the Stadium of Light from Everton in the summer of 1999 – but the Welsh international never fulfilled his obvious potential.

The airgun accident was followed by a fracas outside a Durham nightclub which resulted in Oster spending a night in police cells and receiving a caution.

He was sent back to Sunderland early from a loan spell with Leeds after allegedly misbehaving at the club's Christmas party.

Sunderland later terminated Oster's contract, and he joined former Black Cats' assistant boss Steve Cotterill at Burnley.

He is now back in the Premiership with Reading.