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Shot teen left paralysed

PUBLISHED: 18:09 23 April 2008 | UPDATED: 09:41 23 August 2010

A TEENAGER was left paralysed and confined to a wheelchair for life after a gamekeeper fired shots at a poacher s car, a court has heard. Gamekeeper Jonathan Cannon, 56, of Hadlow and Paul Jeffrey, 38, of Aylesford, appeared at Maidstone Crown Court on T

A TEENAGER was left paralysed and confined to a wheelchair for life after a gamekeeper fired shots at a poacher's car, a court has heard.

Gamekeeper Jonathan Cannon, 56, of Hadlow and Paul Jeffrey, 38, of Aylesford, appeared at Maidstone Crown Court on Tuesday.

The court heard how the injured teenager, John Smith, 16, from Gravesend, was out with four friends "lamping" for rabbits on land near to a large stately home Oxen Hoath, Hadlow, near Tonbridge, on April 17, 2006.

John, who was with his brother Jimmy and three others, Alfie Eastwood, Tom Harber and Bill Smith and a set of Lurcher dogs, were then spotted by the gamekeepers who were out on an exercise to control vermin in a Land Rover.

As the poachers made off in their Subaru, they were followed by the gamekeepers, Mr Cannon, Mr Jeffrey and one other man.

It is alleged five shots were fired at them one of which lodged in the spine of John. Giving evidence John said: "A bullet hit the windscreen and I knew that the man was trying to kill me.

"I heard a loud bang. I thought it had hit the back of the car. I shot forward and realised I had got shot, it hit me in the back.

"I was in terrible pain. It felt like someone chucked me forward, I fell back on the seat. I said to Tom, "I've been shot.

"Tom put his arm around me, his hand was covered in blood. I started panicking.

"The injuries I received mean I am now in a wheelchair. I am completely paralysed"

Jonathan Higgs, prosecuting, said: "It is extremely fortunate that Mr Smith is alive. This was a sustained period of shooting at a vehicle, hitting it repeatedly."

Jeffrey has pleaded guilty to inflicting grievous bodily harm on the teenager but not guilty to possessing a firearm with intent to endanger life and to cause fear of violence.

Cannon pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

The case, expected to last about two weeks, continues.

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