A French hunter who shot a Brit after mistaking him for a wild boar is on trial for manslaughter and faces three years in prison.
Morgan Keane, 25, was shot dead in December 2020 while chopping wood outside his home in La Garrigue, near the village of Calvignac, north of Toulouse.
The Briton, whose father was English and mother French, died instantly when he was shot in the chest in the remote hamlet and an unnamed 33-year-old man and the leader of the gunmen were arrested.
They face a maximum of three years in prison if convicted after friends of Mr Keane launched a campaign for new gun laws in France.
Mr Keane’s younger brother Rowan has called for the killer to be charged with murder.
A French hunter who shot Brit Morgan Keane (pictured) after mistaking him for a wild boar is on trial for manslaughter and could face three years in prison
His lawyer, Benoit Coussy, says organizers deliberately arranged the hunt near Mr Keane’s home in retaliation for his late father, who complained that they shot dangerously close to the property in 2017.
In France, there is no legal minimum distance for shooting near dwellings, but a 150-meter rule applies in some areas.
The death was one of several in France that have led to calls for a crackdown on hunting safety.
The powerful hunting lobby is supported by Emmanuel Macron and has so far ignored calls for reform.
Activists have called for a ban on shooting within reach of properties and an end to hunting on Sundays and Wednesdays when many children are out of school.
Friends of Mr Keane, who fight under the name Un Jour, Un Chausseur (One Day, A Chaser) filed a petition that sparked a Senate inquiry, but all their demands were denied.
Mr Keane is said to have died instantly when a bullet fired by a hunter struck him in the remote hamlet of La Garrigue (the area pictured) near Calvignac and north of Toulouse
They slammed the Senate’s 140-page report as “indecent,” adding, “We feel offended … we feel all the more hurt that we lost someone close to us to the hunt.”
The group said yesterday they hoped the court would make an example of the hunters on trial and hand them a life ban.
Both of Mr Keane’s parents died in the years leading up to his death, leaving him and his younger brother to live alone in the home.
Lilliane – a friend from nearby Cajarc who asked to be identified by her first name only – told local media that Mr Keane was “very close to his parents”.
She said after his death, “He cared for his mother and stayed by his father’s bedside and watched over him to the end.”
Lilliane – who runs a pottery shop and is originally from South Africa – described Mr Keane as an enthusiastic musician who was creative and generous.
Lucas Clerc, 22, (left) shot and killed Mark Sutton, 34, (right) because he believed he was an animal and is still in hospital where he is being treated for severe shock, according to his father Dominique.
Gavin, her husband, said: “Morgan has always been helpful. Whenever I asked for help on a construction site to restore a building, he was always there.”
In a tribute on Facebook, Liliane wrote: “Michael’s best friend and our backup boy was accidentally killed by a hunter last night.
“He leaves behind a 21-year-old brother. His father died this year and his mother a few years ago.
“It’s the saddest thing that’s ever happened to me.”
The incident comes after another French hunter was jailed for a year for accidentally shooting dead a Brit under similar circumstances.
Marc Sutton, 34, originally from Wales, was fatally shot with a rifle in 2018 while skiing down a popular route high in the French Alps.
Lucas Clerc, a 24-year-old hunter, was convicted in 2020 after he admitted firing the fatal shot he said was intended for a wild boar.
Clerc was sentenced to a total of four years in prison, three of which were suspended. Gun ownership was banned for five years and hunting was banned for 10 years.
Marc Sutton (pictured), 34, originally from Wales, was fatally shot with a rifle in 2018 while cycling down a popular route high in the French Alps
Two other hunters, the father of one of them who had hunted, and the man’s wife were also given suspended prison sentences of between six and 18 months for concealing evidence.
A court heard they altered hunting protocols to appear as if they were not in the area at the time and later put up signs warning of a hunt to appear as if they had taken security precautions.
Mr Sutton had lived in the Haute-Savoie region of France with his partner Jo Watts for four years before he was killed on October 13, 2018.
The couple was well known locally as the owners of two restaurants, one of which was vegetarian, and were very popular with customers.
At around 6.50pm on the day in question, Marc was riding down a steep but popular bike path near his home when he was struck by a rifle bullet and killed.
An investigation revealed that Marc had been wearing high-visibility clothing and that visibility was good at the time of the shooting.
Instead, investigators pointed to a number of safety deficiencies by the hunting party, including failing to post signs warning of hunting in the area.
The largely inexperienced party had also failed to appoint a person to lead the hunt, failed to establish a clear area for their hunt, failed to fill out required paperwork and hunted within 500 feet of homes, prosecutors said.
The hunter had said the rifle bullet that killed Mr Sutton (left, with his partner Jo Watts) was intended for a wild boar, but prosecutors pointed to a litany of safety flaws
Mr Clerc’s father, Dominique, said his son (pictured) shot Mr Sutton because he believed he was a deer
Investigators added that the hunter, who aimed at a boar, did not aim the shot at the ground as prescribed, but fired straight ahead.
This meant that when he missed the shot, the bullet could travel far enough to hit and kill Marc, who had unwittingly walked into the line of fire.
Frédéric Noetinger-Berlioz, a lawyer for the victim’s family, described the hunters as “pathetic and pathetic” and called the verdict “fair under the circumstances”.
He added that hunting was not the cause of Mr Sutton’s death but “delinquent hunters who failed to comply with safety procedures”.
At the time of his death, Miss Watts was paying tribute to a “kind, happy, loving man” who said they had spent nine happy years together.
He was also described as “popular” and “popular” by residents of the French Alpine community who called her home.
A 17-year-old hunter who killed a 25-year-old hiker in the Massif Central highlands is also awaiting trial, as is a gunman whose bullet slammed into a car on a dual carriageway between Rennes and Nantes, killing the 67-year-old . old driver.