Inquest held after air rifle shot kills 10-year-old boy in Swansea, Wales

Saturday, February 27, 2010

An inquest was held this week after a 10-year-old boy died after being shot with an air rifle in Swansea, Wales. On September 27, 2009, Rhys Johnson and his friend, aged 12, took, without permission, an air gun which belonged to Rhys' father. The two boys played with it near to the location of the Johnson house in the district of Llansamlet. They were unsupervised when they were shooting the gun at a bucket that was hanging in a tree and a tin can that was placed on a box.

The friend, who has remained anonymous, shot Rhys Johnson in the heart with the .22 caliber Webley Vulcan air gun at close range. Johnson died in a hospital at 0211 BST the next day from said wound. Philip Rogers, a coroner from Swansea, recorded the verdict as an accidental death. He was told that the friend had no intention of shooting Johnson. Therefore, no legal action has been taken against Johnson's friend accordingly.

Detective Sergeant Nigel Morgan of South Wales Police said that "Rhys was standing to his left calling [his friend] and laughing. The boy held the rifle at the butt in his right arm with his finger on the trigger. As he turned he felt the gun to be heavy. As it fell away he pulled it towards him and accidentally fired the trigger. Rhys was holding himself to the chest—he thought he was joking then he thought he's shot Rhys in the hand. He saw no blood and Rhys ran to the house." The detective stated that the friend "was crying and apologizing for what happened."

Rhys Johnson's father, David, age 36, an engineer in a workshop and the owner of the air rifle testified, "I would allow him to use it if he was with me when I was up the garden or we were spending time together. Rhys would have shown interest in it from when he was about eight-years-old." The coroner urged "anyone with children to try and ensure that such weapons are not used without parental supervision," going on to say that he was "sure Mr. and Mrs. Johnson were not aware the children were using the weapon unsupervised."