Teenager shot school children ‘over exam stress’

Jack Hewitt pled guilty at Edinburgh Sheriff Court. Picture: Greg Macvean
Jack Hewitt pled guilty at Edinburgh Sheriff Court. Picture: Greg Macvean
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A TEENAGER who shot terrified primary school children with an air weapon was stressed about his exams, a court heard.

Jack Hewitt opened fire with a BB gun from a window at his parents’ home, hitting several youngsters as they were enjoying their lunchtime break in the playground.

Hewitt, who was 16 at the time, hit one child in the forehead and another just below the eye with plastic pellets.

The youngsters at Gilmerton Primary, Edinburgh - all of them in P4 and P5 - suffered red marks and bruising although none was seriously injured.

Hewitt, 17, yesterday pled guilty to a charge of culpably and recklessly discharging a firearm on May 30 this year in Edinburgh.

Depute Fiscal Susan Dickson told Edinburgh Sheriff Court: “The children were out playing on their lunchtime break when a number of them reported being hit by what they thought were stones.

“Later white plastic ball bearings were found and it became clear that they had been hit by pellets.”

Miss Dickson said police called to Hewitt’s home.

She said: “He appeared to the officers to be tearful and said he had shot the BB gun but said he did not mean to hit anyone.

“He said he had shot from the bathroom window, but was unable to explain why he had done something so stupid. He was detained and taken to St Leonard’s police station.”

She added that on questioning at the police station Hewitt had said: “That was me. I was just letting off some steam. I’ll never do it again.

“He said that he was sitting higher exams at the time and that the stress had got to him.”

Hewitt’s solicitor handed a letter from Hewitt’s school principal to Sheriff Isabella McColl but it was not read to the court.

The case was adjourned to January 21 for social enquiry reports.

The debate about the control over air weapons has raged in Scotland since 2005, when two-year-old Andrew Morton died after being shot in the head with an air rifle.

The youngster, from Glasgow, was in the arms of his older brother Brian watching fire engines when drug addict, Mark Bonini, 27, shot him from his first story flat.

Bonini was convicted of Andrew’s murder and is currently serving a 13 year sentence in prison.

Since his death, Andrew’s parents, Sharon McMillan and Andy Morton, have been begging for the Scottish government to ban weapons on the street and met with Justice Secretary, Kenny MacAskill last year.

Devolved powers from Westminster means Holyrood have the power to change current firearm laws, which currently do not licence air weapons.

But although the couple were promised a new law under Andrew’s name, it has yet to materialise.

Guidance states however that BB, paintball and airsoft guns would not be included as they were considered “unlikely to prove lethal or pose any significant threat.”