Peter Colwell shooting: gamekeeper guilty of manslaughter

Boduan Shoot / North Wales Police

A man has been found guilty of killing a young gamekeeper after he was accidentally shot dead outside a pub.

Peter Colwell (18), from Clynnog, died from a single shotgun wound in the car park of the Ship Inn in Llanbedrog during a night out in February 2017.

Ben Wilson (29), from Ely, Cambridgeshire, denied manslaughter by gross negligence but was found guilty by a jury at Caernarfon Crown Court. He admitted owning the semi-automatic shotgun and possessing a loaded firearm in a public place.

Ben Fitzsimons (23), from Nanhoron, near Pwllheli, was cleared of manslaughter, but was convicted at an earlier trial of possessing a loaded shotgun in a public place.

Judge Rhys Rowlands told the pair to expect jail sentences when they are sentenced on Thursday.

The court heard all three men had been on a pub crawl on the day of Mr Colwell’s death.

Proseuctors said Wilson kept the shotgun in the footwell of a Land Rover Discovery, but he wasn’t in the vehicle at the time of the shooting.

Fitzsimons was waiting in the front passenger seat of the car for Wilson to return from the toilet when the gun was accidentally discharged. It had been left propped up with the muzzle pointing to the rear of the vehicle.

Both defendants were accused of showing a ”cavalier disregard” to gun safety – although the prosecution insisted the killing was not deliberate or malicious.

But Fitzsimons told the court he had checked the gun at another pub in Abersoch earlier in the evening because he knew people were travelling in the back seat.

He thought the weapon was safe after he removed a cartridge and checked if there were any more by testing the sliding mechanism. Fitzsimons said he had no recollection of how the gun was discharged, but agreed he must have set it off.

It was the second trial for the two defendants after a jury failed to return a verdict last December.

This time, it took over four hours of deliberations before six men and six women convicted Wilson for manslaughter by gross negligence. Neither he nor Fitzsimons showed any emotion as the verdicts were read out.

Judge Rowlands granted bail for both Wilson and Fitzsimons until Thursday, but he added: ”You shouldn’t read anything into that. You must prepare yourself for a custodial sentence.”

At the first trial, Fitzsimons’ brother, Michael (25), and Harry Butler (23), of Llaniestyn, were acquitted of possessing a loaded shotgun in a public place. Both men were with Mr Colwell and the two defendants on the night of the shooting.

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