Co Down gun club safety officer thinks `a thousand times a day' of killing friend in horrendous shooting accident

Terry Fitzsimons died in a clay pigeon shooting accident in Co Down

A SAFETY officer of a Co Down gun club, who accidentally shot his friend in the head in a "horrendous accident", says he thinks about it "a thousand times a day".

Edward James Fitzsimons (60), from Ringsallin Gardens, Ballykinler and known to family and friends as `Terry', died almost instantly after being struck by a shotgun round during a clay pigeon shoot at Lough Money, near Downpatrick on July 24 2016.

A coroner's court heard yesterday that Loughview Gun Club has not met together to run a shoot since the tragedy.

Club member Bill Palin was originally interviewed be detectives on suspicion of manslaughter following Mr Fitzsimons's death, but police quickly determined that it had been a "tragic accident".

Mr Palin was twisting to try and shoot a clay pigeon, which had released at an unexpected angle, when his shoulder crashed into the safety cage, causing him to fall backwards as he fired his gun.

Mr Fitzsimons, who had been standing behind him, was struck by the cartridge at a range of less than a metre, causing catastrophic brain damage, according to former state pathologist Professor Jack Crane.

Coroner Paddy McGurgan noted that in "one of the ironies of this utter tragedy", Mr Palin had actually "built the cage that was being used that was not a requirement but a sign of the care taken by the club".

He said it was important that the truth was known about the case as "rumour and speculation have surrounded the death of Mr Fitzsimons".

Mr Fitzsimons's son Ryan shook hands with Mr Palin after the hearing.

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