A French hunter who shot a British man after mistaking him for a boar faces three years in prison for manslaughter.
Morgan Keane, 25, was shot 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, was killed instantly when he was shot in the chest in the isolated hamlet and a 33-year-old unnamed man and the head of the shooting were arrested.
If convicted, they face up to three years in prison after friends of Keane’s launched a campaign for new gun laws in France.
Mr. Keane’s younger brother, Rowan, has called for the killer to be tried for murder.
French hunter who shot British man Morgan Keane (pictured) after he mistook him for a boar faces three years in prison for manslaughter
His lawyer Benoit Coussy says the organizers deliberately staged 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.
There is no legal minimum distance for shooting near houses in France, but a rule of 150 meters applies in some areas.
The death was one of several deaths in France that have led to calls for a crackdown on hunting safety.
The powerful hunting lobby is backed by Emmanuel Macron and has so far ignored calls for reform.
Campaigners have called for a ban on shooting within reach of property and an end to hunting on Sundays and Wednesdays when many children are out of school.
Friends of Mr. Keane, who campaigns under the name Un Jour, Un Chausseur (One Day, One Hunter), filed a petition that led to a Senate investigation, but all their demands were rejected.
It is believed that Mr Keane died instantly when a bullet fired by a hunter hit him in the isolated hamlet of La Garrigue (the area, pictured), near Calvignac and north of Toulouse
They called the 140-page Senate report “indecent” and added: “We feel insulted … we feel all the more hurt because we lost someone close to us to the hunt.”
The group said yesterday it hopes the court will set an example of the fighters on trial and give them a lifelong ban.
Both of Mr Keane’s parents died in the years before his death, leaving him and his younger brother living alone in the house.
Liliane – a friend in nearby Cajarc who asked to be identified by her first name only – told local media that Keane had “been very close to his parents.”
She said after his death, “He took care of his mother, and stayed at his father’s bedside and watched over him to the end.”
Liliane – 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 Mark Sutton, 34, (right) believing he was an animal and according to his father Dominique is still being treated in hospital for severe shock.
Gavin, her husband, said, “Morgan was always helpful. When I asked for help on a construction site, when restoring a building, he was always there.’
In a tribute on Facebook, Liliane wrote: “Michael’s best friend and our surrogate boy were accidentally killed by a hunter last night.
“He leaves behind a 21-year-old brother. His father passed away this year and his mother a few years ago.
“This is the saddest thing that ever happened to me.”
The incident comes after another French fighter was sentenced to a year in prison who – in similar circumstances – accidentally shot and killed a British man.
Marc Sutton, 34, and originally from Wales, was fatally shot with a rifle in 2018 while cycling a popular route high in the French Alps.
Lucas Clerc, a 24-year-old hunter, was convicted in 2020 after admitting to firing the fatal shot, which he said was intended for a wild boar.
Clerc was sentenced to a total of four years, three of which were probation, He was banned from owning a weapon for five years and a hunting ban for ten years.
Marc Sutton (pictured), 34, and originally from Wales, was fatally shot with a rifle in 2018 while cycling a popular route high in the French Alps
Two other hunters, the father of one of those who had been hunting, and that man’s wife, were also given six to 18 months suspended sentences for withholding evidence.
A court heard they changed hunting logs to make it look like they weren’t in the area at the time, and later put up signs warning of a hunt to make it look like they had taken security measures.
Sutton lived with partner Jo Watts in the Haute-Savoie region of France for four years before he was murdered on October 13, 2018.
The couple were known locally as the owners of two restaurants, one of which was vegetarian, and were loved by the customers.
At about 6:50pm on the day in question, Marc was riding down a steep but popular bike route near his home when he was hit and killed by a rifle bullet.
An investigation revealed that Marc was wearing highly visible clothing and that visibility was good at the time of his shooting.
Instead, investigators pointed to a litany of security flaws by the hunt, including their failure to put up signs warning of a hunt in the area.
The largely inexperienced party also failed to designate a person to lead the hunt, failed to establish a clear area for their hunt, failed to complete proper paperwork and hunted within 150 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 security flaws.
Mr Clerc’s father, Dominique, said his son (pictured) shot Mr Sutton believing he was a deer
Investigators added that, aiming at a boar, the hunter did not aim the shot at the ground as required, but instead shot straight.
That meant that when he missed the shot, the bullet could travel far enough to hit and kill Marc, who had unknowingly cycled into the line of fire.
Frédéric Noetinger-Berlioz, lawyer for the victim’s family, described the fighters as “pathetic and pathetic” and called the punishment “balanced … given the circumstances”.
He added that the hunt was not the cause of Mr Sutton’s death, but rather “delinquent hunters who failed to follow safety rules”.
At the time of his death, Miss Watts paid tribute to a “kind, happy, loving man” who said they shared nine happy years together.
He was also described by those living in the French Alpine community who referred to them as “beloved” and “popular” at home.
A 17-year-old hunter who killed a 25-year-old hiker in the highlands of the Massif Central is also awaiting trial, as is a gunman whose bullet entered a car on a dual carriageway between Rennes and Nantes, killing the 67-year-old driver.