AN armed man warned youngsters to watch out for “dangerous people – like us,” before shooting one of them in the back of the leg.
Durham Crown Court heard a group of friends were camping out on a Seaham playing field when Ross Dixon, with another man, approached them carrying an air rifle and dressed in camouflage.
The friends later told police they had been intimidated and frightened by him.
A 17-year-old said he had been approached by the two men and felt something hit the back of his leg.
Prosecutor David Crook said the teenage victim found a pellet embedded in the back of his knee, which he removed.
“It was clear he had been shot,” added Mr Crook.
“The injury was minor fortunately, but it looks like he will be permanently scarred.
“The defendant was arrested and admitted being responsible on the grounds it was an accident and it had hit the ground, but we don’t accept that.”
Dixon’s guilty plea to assault occasioning actual bodily harm, on August 6 last year, was accepted on the grounds his actions were reckless.
The court was told the 25-year-old, from Goswick Way, Seaham, has previous convictions for criminal damage and assault in 2009, as well as for being drunk and disorderly behaviour, committed while on bail for the shooting incident.
The court was told the delay in the case was due to tests being carried out on the air weapon.
Jamie Adams, mitigating, said dealing with the proceedings had left Dixon shaken.
He worked part-time through a job with a coatings company, earning £200 a week, but felt this was better than living on benefits.
Recorder Darren Preston branded his actions “idiotic” and said: “A group of youngsters were camping out in some fields and just out to have a nice time, when you and a second male decided to approach them.
“You reckoned you were the big man going round with an air rifle. You ought to be a bit too old for that because, Mr Dixon, you need to grow up.
“If you carry on being reckless or violent you will come before the courts and end up in custody.
“You could not complain if you were locked up for this, albeit for a short time.”
Dixon was given a 12-month community order with supervision, 180 hours’ unpaid work and ordered to pay £200 in compensation.
An order was made to destroy the weapon.