'Spurned' man who accidentally shot his love interest is jailed

Louis Phelps Van Darl

Louis Phelps Van Darl

First published in News
Last updated
Dorset Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Senior Reporter

A ‘SPURNED’ man who accidentally shot his love interest with an air rifle has been jailed. Although Louis Phelps Van Darl told police it was an accident, he admitted he may have said ‘she deserved it’.

Dorchester Crown Court heard how Van Darl, aged 37, was at Portland beach last October for a friend’s memorial.

Also at the event was the victim – a woman Van Darl had unsuccessfully pursued, the court heard.

Van Darl, of Rodwell Road, Weymouth, said the air rifle was brought to the event by someone else with the intention of carrying out a 21-gun salute.

But the defendant was ‘bumped’ as he held the weapon and accidentally fired a pellet into the back of the victim’s leg, he said.

Prosecutor Anita Gibson-Lee told the court that witnesses said Van Darl had been ‘smiling’ before and after he shot the woman.

When interviewed by the police on the night of the incident, neither Van Darl, the victim or any witnesses would say who fired the gun.

Miss Gibson-Lee told the court that witnesses who later came forward said they had kept quiet because they expected Van Darl to ‘step forward and say it was him’.

The court heard that Van Darl – also known as Wayne Lewis – had been ‘knocked back’ by the victim in his bid to form a relationship with her.

But in mitigation, Peter Bush said this had nothing to do with what happened on the beach.

He said Van Darl, who has 17 convictions for 30 offences, was sorry for what happened.

He added: “This defendant has a chequered history, but he is a young man who leads an alternative lifestyle.

“I fully accept that his sense of morality is somewhat different, but I don’t think that then turns him into the kind of predatory individual who goes down to prey on somebody who spurned him.

“I don’t think that’s supported in any way by the evidence.

“To err is honourable, to forgive is divine.

“This young man is sadly one of the lost generation that one finds in these communities.”

The court heard that Van Darl was subject to a community order and a conditional discharge when he committed the offences.

Sentencing him to 34 weeks for actual bodily harm and 34 weeks for possession of a firearm, to be served concurrently, Judge Jarvis said being drunk and in possession of a weapon was a ‘toxic combination’.

He added: “Your victim suffered serious shock and an unfortunate injury.

“You have a very poor record of engagement with those who have been trying to offer you assistance on previous occasions.

“The pre-sentence report also shows poor victim empathy.

“There can be no debate that this is a case where there is higher culpability.”

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