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Man pleads guilty in accidental shooting

A local man who accidentally shot a friend while drunk pleaded guilty to four charges in provincial court last week.

Andrew Collins, 40, will spend seven months and 22 days on a conditional sentence followed by 18 months on probation with conditions after pleading guilty to  charges of unlawfully causing bodily harm, unauthorized possession of a firearm, careless use of a firearm and a breach of conditions.

Collins had been in jail for 32 days prior to his release on bail so Judge Hermann Seidemann's sentence of nine months minus his jail time came to seven months and 22 days left on his conditional sentence, said defence attorney Timothy Klaassen.

A sentencing range of six to nine months was suggested by crown and defence, who agreed to a plea arrangement, and Seidemann said he'd give the higher end of that sentence because of Collins's record, Klaassen added.

On March 27, police found a man shot in the leg near the sportsplex around 6:30 a.m.

A witness said he heard a gunshot and then found the man on the ground, said police at that time.

Officers investigated and found the witness and victim had been in a nearby apartment, said police.

Another man was playing with a handgun when it went off and hit his friend in the shin, said police.

The victim and witness went outside in “an obvious attempt to distract police from the scene of the incident,” said police.

Collins was arrested later.

The victim was treated at hospital and released, said police.

A handgun was recovered and alcohol was a significant contributing factor in the accidental shooting, said police.

At the time of the shooting, Collins was very depressed and was drinking, said Klaassen.

He put one bullet into the chamber of his gun, put it to his own head, pulled the trigger and it clicked but didn't go off, said Klaassen.

Collins put more rounds in the chamber and while handling the gun, it went off and a bullet struck his friend in the leg, but fortunately didn't break any bones, said Klasssen.

The friend didn't want medical attention and walked away from hospital, he added.

Under his conditional sentence order, until Sept. 30 Collins will have to abide by a curfew of 21.5 hours a day with 2.5 hours each day that he can be out.

From Oct. 1 to Dec. 31, he must abide by a curfew of 7:15 p.m. to 10 a.m. seven days each week.

From Jan. 1, 2012 until the end of his conditional sentence, he must be inside his residence from 9 p.m. until 8 a.m. seven days each week.

The curfew gives him a “full dose' of house arrest for the first part of his sentence and then there is a “tapering” off of the curfew, which allows him to reintegrate into society over time, Klaassen explained. Collins must provide a DNA sample to police and is prohibited from owning or possessing firearms for 10 years.

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