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of the British Broadcasting Corporation



Thursday, 29 November 2007, 14:59 GMT
Man jailed after firing catapult

A man who sparked a gun scare by using a catapult to fire ball bearings from a moving van has been jailed.

Gavin Lynch, 27, from Kilmarnock, targeted bus passengers with the device in Stirling as well as firing on a pub and shop in the village of Buchlyvie.

Lynch pleaded guilty to four charges of culpable recklessness, dating from February, at Stirling Sheriff Court.

Jailing him for seven months, Sheriff Wyllie Robertson said his crimes could have caused serious injury.

Lynch was caught after CCTV footage showed the white van he had used in the attacks.

Central Scotland Police traced the van to Lynch's brother, who lived in Govan.

All the holes in all the incidents appeared to have been made by a similar-sized ball bearing
Keri Marshall
fiscal depute

The court heard how Lynch used the catapult to shatter a bus shelter in Stirling, fire at bus passengers and target the Rob Roy Inn and Pottery shop in Buchlyvie.

Prosecutor Keri Marshall said a mother who heard the bus shelter shatter was left terrified.

She said: "A witness pushing her child past heard a thud which she described as sounding like a shot being fired and the glass panel behind her shattered.

"She told a traffic warden because she was so terrified."

Miss Marshall said that minutes later two passengers were sitting on the bus waiting to leave Stirling bus station when they heard a thud.

'Almost inexplicable'

They turned round to find a hole in the window beside them and a ball bearing embedded in it.

Miss Marshall said: "All the holes in all the incidents appeared to have been made by a similar-sized ball bearing.

"Police consulted CCTV footage of the incidents in Stirling and saw a white van was nearby at the time of both."

When asked by police about his actions, Miss Marshall told the court Lynch had given no reason.

Defence agent Calum Ross described his client's actions as "bizarre".

He added: "He is genuinely remorseful."

Lynch, a former call centre worker, produced a cheque in court in an attempt to pay for the damage he had caused.

Declining to impose a compensation order, Sheriff Robertson said only a custodial sentence was appropriate.

He said: "The damage to property is of secondary importance.

"Firing ball bearings like this with such force has a potential to maim, cause serious injury, or far worse, that is enormous and obvious, and you did so not just on one but on four occasions."