A mother of two has been acquitted of encouraging her boyfriend to shoot a crying toddler in the head with an air rifle.
A jury took just 35 minutes to find Emma Horseman, (24), not guilty of unlawfully and maliciously inflicting grievous bodily harm to Harry Studley on the basis that she aided or abetted an offence.
Harry was just 18 months old when Jordan Walters pointed the weapon at him and pulled the trigger in July last year.
Horseman was accused of telling Walters: “Shoot Harry, just to frighten him, to shut him up, shoot it at Harry.”
Bristol Crown Court heard that Harry was visiting Horseman's home in Bishport Avenue, Hartcliffe, with his mother Amy Allen and older brother Riley when he was shot.
Walters has already admitted unlawfully and maliciously inflicting grievous bodily harm on the toddler.
Earlier, Horseman had told the court how Harry was injured as she chatted with her friend Ms Allen in the lounge of her two-bedroom flat. “I couldn’t see what Jordan was doing. All I know was that he was cleaning the gun. I know he had the gun out but I couldn’t see him.”
She denied telling Walters to shoot Harry, telling the jury: “No, Jordan didn’t hear what I said. I can’t remember saying that.”
Paul Cook, defending, asked Horseman: "What was the first you knew about the gun being fired?"
She replied: “I didn’t even know it was. I just looked down and looked up and saw Harry was bleeding. That’s all that I can remember. Harry was sat on his mum’s lap. Jordan said to Amy, ‘what do I do?’ and Amy said, ‘ring the ambulance’ and that’s what he did. There was lots of ambulances arriving. It just happened so fast. I just remember Harry bleeding and the police turning up. I can’t remember anything else.”
Asked how she felt about the incident, Horseman replied: “Horrible, I felt bad, sick . . . like that could have been my child.”
Cross-examining Horseman, prosecutor Andrew Macfarlane asked why her account given to the police while interviewed as a witness differed from her evidence in court. "Because I didn't have a lawyer to help me. I was not in the right frame of mind," she replied.
Mr Macfarlane asked Horseman about the firing of an air rifle in her home.
“Is it something that you have found in your family . . . that the sound of an empty gun discharging does keep the children quiet? Have you tried it?” he asked.
Horseman replied: “I didn’t put anyone in danger. I am not that sort of person. I wouldn’t put any children in danger.”
Harry, now aged two, was taken to Bristol Children’s Hospital where he underwent emergency surgery.
Doctors discovered he had suffered a displaced skull fracture and swelling and bleeding on the brain after being shot in the right temple. The pellet has not been found.
Harry’s speech is now developing normally but he suffers from several post-traumatic seizures a day and is being treated with anticonvulsant drugs.