Man (25) shot crying toddler in the head with air rifle leaving him permanently disabled
A man who shot a crying 18-month-old boy in the head with an air rifle has been jailed for two years.
Jordan Walters, 25, fired the weapon right into the head of Harry Studley, who was left fighting for life and with permanent disabilities.
The toddler underwent emergency surgery after suffering the serious head injury at Walters' flat in Hartcliffe, Bristol, on July 1.
He has been left with limited vision in both eyes, daily post-traumatic seizures and finds it difficult to recognise his parents.
Bristol Crown Court heard Walters dialled 999 after the incident and later pleaded guilty to inflicting grievous bodily harm.
Judge Julian Lambert jailed Walters for two years and described his actions as "grossly irresponsible".
"You bear a very heavy burden of responsibility for a crime that left a little boy fighting for his life and which leaves him with serious permanent disability," the judge told Walters.
"Only the resolution of Harry in his fight for life and the brilliance of the surgical team saved him.
"But for your grossly irresponsible behaviour, Harry Studley would today be a bouncing little boy with unlimited expectations ahead of him in life."
The judge said Harry is showing symptoms of epilepsy and has badly impaired vision "and will so suffer for life".
"Many recreations and pleasures will be denied to Harry both in his youth and his adult life," the judge added.
"The impaired vision is severely limiting as well. There is a probably personality change also."
The court heard Walters and his partner, Emma Horseman, 24, were good friends with Harry's parents, Amy Allen and Edward Studley.
Both couples lived at Oak House, a block of flats in Bishop Avenue in Bristol.
Miss Allen brought Harry to the couple's flat, where Miss Horseman and her children were, on July 1 last year.
Walters later arrived, removed his air rifle from the cupboard and started cleaning it in preparation for shooting rats the following day.
Harry began crying and climbed up the sofa so he was next to his mother.
Miss Allen heard Miss Horseman say to Walters: "Shoot Harry, just to frighten him, to shut him up, shoot it at Harry".
The court heard Miss Horseman denies saying this and was acquitted of aiding or abetting Walters to inflict GBH on Harry following a trial.
Walters aimed the gun at the toddler and fired it right into his head, causing a significant head injury.
Prosecuting, Andrew Macfarlane said: "Amy immediately picked Harry up into her arms.
"There was blood on the floor and on the sofa. Harry kept losing consciousness."
An air ambulance arrived a short time later and Harry was taken to Bristol Royal Hospital for Children.
"Harry's parents were initially told by the doctors to say their goodbyes to Harry," Mr Macfarlane said.
Harry underwent emergency surgery, saving his life, and remained in hospital for four months.
The pellet from the air rifle will remain in his head for the rest of his life. He has only 50% vision in his right eye and 25% vision in his left.
"The parents tell me this morning that unfortunately they have noticed a deterioration in his personality," the prosecutor added.
"He is finding it difficult to recognise anyone, including his parents."
In a victim impact statement read to the court, Miss Allen described what happened to her son as her "worst nightmare".
"The moment I heard the gun go off and realised Harry was bleeding my world collapsed," she said.
"I thought he was going to die. As I waited for the ambulance I was cradling Harry in my arms."
Miss Allen said she was shaking her son to keep him alive and hoped he would live long enough to get to hospital.
"Once at the hospital, Harry was examined by the doctor and Ed and I were told to say goodbye to Harry because they were 100% certain that he would die," she said.
"Harry didn't die because he fought for the next 16 weeks in hospital to get better."
Miss Allen and Mr Studley remained at his bedside for the 16 weeks, "praying that Harry would pull through".
Mr Studley was forced to give up work to help care for Harry, who requires constant supervision.
"I will always live that day in my mind," Miss Allen said.
"I feel hatred towards the people involved in what happened.
"The only good thing to come out of this incident is we still have Harry in our lives and we will continue to support and encourage him for the rest of his life."
Miss Allen handed her phone to the judge to show him a photograph of Harry following the shooting.
Representing Walters, Anjali Gohil told the court her client, of previous good character, was deeply remorseful for his actions.
"Mr Walters recognises the serious and lasting impact that his thoughtless, ill-conceived and reckless actions that day had upon Harry and upon his family and friends," she said.
"This has divided a community. These were his friends. He did something so stupid he can't forgive himself for that. He can't apologise enough to the family for his behaviour.
"Mr Walters has children of his own."
Miss Horseman and her children moved away from the area following the shooting, Miss Gohil said.