Fox hunter shot Shetland pony dead thinking it was a fox
A hunter who shot dead a 10-year-old girl's "beautiful" pet Shetland pony - claiming he had mistaken it for a fox - has been ordered to do 120 hours of unpaid work and pay £500 compensation to the owners.
Samuel McLean of Greenville Avenue, Ballymoney, Co Antrim, was sentenced at Coleraine Magistrates Court after pleading guilty to a charge of criminal damage at an earlier hearing.
The court heard the 30-year-old was 'lamping' for foxes in the Castleroe area near Coleraine last August when the fatal shot was fired.
He told police he'd shot at what he believed was a fox, lost sight of the animal, then fired again when it reappeared.
It was the second shot that resulted in the death of Maisie the pony.
A defence lawyer said the fact the animal was an 18-month-old foal may have explained how his client made the mistake.
He added that it was also standing in a "dip in the hill".
The lawyer said when McLean realised what had happened, he immediately began knocking on doors to try and establish who the pony's owners were. He added: "There never would have been any prospect of a ballistics trace on his rifle. He could have fled and he could have evaded responsibility."