French hunter apologises for shooting dead a British man, 25, he mistook for a boar as he tells court: ‘It’s marked me for life’
- 2020 death of Morgan Keane, a Franco-British man, caused outrage in France
- He was shot while cutting wood near his house in the village of Calvignac
- Two men – the man who fired the fatal shot and the 51-year-old organiser of the hunt – both went on trial on Thursday in the nearby town of Cahors
- They are both charged with involuntary manslaughter, and face up to three years in prison and a 75,000 euros (£65,000) fine
A French hunter has apologised for shooting dead a 25-year-old British man he mistook for a boar in 2020, telling the court: ‘It marked me for life’.
The death of Morgan Keane, a Franco-British man, caused outrage when he was shot while cutting wood near his house in the village of Calvignac in southwest France.
Two men – the man who fired the fatal shot and the 51-year-old organiser of the hunt – both went on trial on Thursday in the nearby town of Cahors, charged with involuntary manslaughter.
If convicted, they face up to three years in prison and a 75,000 euros (£65,000) fine.
The death of Morgan Keane (pictured in photos displayed at a vigil and protest over his death in 2021), a Franco-British man, caused outrage when he was shot while cutting wood near his house in the village of Calvignac in southwest France
‘There isn’t a day I don’t think about it, it’s marked me for life. I’m sorry,’ the shooter told the court, admitting that he had not ‘identified the target’.
The case has revived tensions between anti-hunting activists and defenders of a rural hobby and practice that is seen as necessary by farmers to keep down deer and boar populations in particular.
During the busy times of the hunting season, large parts of the French countryside reverberate with the sound of gunshot, leading many walkers to avoid forested areas for their own safety.
‘A lot of people support us,’ said Audrey Tindiliere, a member of a collective campaigning for restrictions which was set up after Keane’s death.
‘Eighty percent of people are in favour of strengthening the regulation of hunting in order to improve the sharing of the countryside with hunters,’ she told AFP news agency before the trial began.
State prosecutors called for both defendants to be given a two-year jail term, with 18 months suspended, underscoring ‘the seriousness of the shortcomings that led to the death of Morgan Keane’.
A verdict is expected on January 12.
In this file photo taken on December 4, 2021 a friend holds a portrait of Morgan Keane as he leads a white march to pay tribute to the young man, a year after he was killed by two hunters, in Cajarc, southwestern France
Keane was shot while cutting wood near his house in the village of Calvignac in southwest France. Pictured: A view of a road running through La Garrigue (near Calvignac)
Hunters form a powerful political lobby in France through the National Federation of Hunters (FNC).
The head of the FNC, Willy Schraen, called for an ‘exemplary verdict’ in the Keane case, an acknowledgement of the strong public feelings around the death.
Keane, whose father was British and mother French, was inside the boundary of his property.
‘We ban hunters who do not respect the most basic rules. It mustn’t happen again. It’s unacceptable that this mistake led to the death of a man,’ he said.
‘If you don’t know what you’re shooting at, you don’t shoot.’
The number of hunting accidents has fallen over the last 20 years, according to the government’s Office for Biodiversity.
There were 90 accidents during the 2021/22 season, eight of which were fatal, including two people who were not hunters, the figures show.
Last month, British woman who was accidentally shot and killed by her French boyfriend during a wild boar hunt in northern France.
And on October 9, a 62-year-old hunter was shot in the abdomen while picking mushrooms in the town of Vinsobres in the Drôme region.
Also in October, a 33-year-old mother and her young children were injured during a small game hunt in the Rhône, according to Le Bien Public.
In February, a 25-year-old woman died instantly after being hit by a hunter’s bullet while walking with a friend along a marked trail near Aurillac, in the Cantal region.
The British woman who died last month, Jacqueline Taylor, 67, from a gunshot wound ‘above the heart’ after her partner Pierrot Philippot, 69, fired his shoulder-mounted rifle in her direction during the hunt.
Philippot, who now faces a manslaughter charge, is the president of the Goudelin-Bringolo hunt and organised the wild boar hunt close to the couple’s home in Goudelin, Brittany, on Sunday. He was said to be ‘devastated’ by the incident.
Miss Taylor was rushed to hospital in Saint-Brieuc, Brittany, but died from her injuries at around midday.
Jacqueline Taylor, 67, (left) died on Sunday from a gunshot wound ‘above the heart’ after her partner Pierrot Philippot, 69, (right) fired his shoulder-mounted rifle in her direction during the hunt
An investigating source said: ‘The hunters were walking through a field of corn silage when the president of the hunt fired with his shoulder-mounted rifle, barrel pointing towards the back.
‘The shot hit his partner, and the bullet caused a penetrating wound above her heart. She was rushed to hospital but died of her wounds’.
Philippot, who has been hunting in the area since he was a teenager, has been bailed while an investigation continues.
Tests for alcohol and drugs proved negative, and an autopsy is due to take place on Wednesday.
Philippot, who has been hunting in the area since he was a teenager, has been bailed while an investigation continues
The hunting party included around a dozen hunters and two guests, public prosecutor Nicolas Heitz said.
Laurent Le Faucheur, mayor of Goudelin, said Philippot was ‘absolutely devastated by the accident’.
Mr Le Faucheur said: ‘It’s a terrible shock for us all. I knew the couple well. Jacqueline arrived from Britain about seven years ago, and was very happy in the village.
‘She had a horse, and they both shared other animals including dogs and cats.
‘What happened is devastating. I was called quickly, I came right away, because of course, a hunting accident is a sensitive subject. A full investigation is under way.’
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