A YOUNG man held a ‘handgun’ against a stranger’s face and pulled the trigger, leaving the victim bleeding and with a pellet lodged in his forehead.

Thomas Obadiah McCalum had no recollection of the assault in Bournemouth in the early hours of Christmas Eve last year after he had been “fed Xanax”.

Bournemouth Crown Court heard the 18-year-old had been administered the illicit sedative by suspected criminals who had exploited his vulnerability.

Judge Stephen Climie jailed McCalum for four years, having previously pleaded guilty to inflicting grievous bodily harm with intent and possession of an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence.

The judge said: “Christmas Eve, ordinarily, is a time for celebration and positive high spirits. As far as the victim was concerned that was very much in play and in hand until you stepped in front of him for no good reason at all.

“You were armed with a weapon, on any basis, which was potentially lethal – that potential you effectively put in play. Holding it to his head and pulling the trigger was the most likely way of causing a fatal injury.

“Why would be a total mystery as you were unknown to each other.”

Bournemouth Echo: Thomas McCalumThomas McCalum

Prosecuting, Edward Hollingsowth said the male victim had been out with a friend in Bournemouth.

They were in Holdenhurst Road and talking to each other when they were approached by two men. An exchange of words followed which included the victim being told to follow the people he did not know.

He refused to do so and at this point he produced what appeared to be a black handgun, aiming it at the victim’s head.

Mr Hollingsworth said that with the “barrel of the pistol touching” the victim’s forehead, McCalum pulled the trigger and a pellet was discharged.

This caused “immediate pain and heavy bleeding”. The victim’s girlfriend came to get him and took him to the police station before he was taken to hospital.

An X-ray showed the pellet from the imitation firearm McCalum had used was in the man’s head. It was removed, the wound was stitched and there was no neurological damage.

The defendant, of Bournemouth, was identified by the victim in a police identification parade on January 1.

Bournemouth Echo: The sentencing hearing took place at Bournemouth Crown CourtThe sentencing hearing took place at Bournemouth Crown Court

A victim impact statement read by Mr Hollingsworth said: “At the time of the incident I had no idea the gun was not real.

“It started to make me think what if and started to play on my mind.”

The victim said he had found it difficult to interact with people after the incident and he feared revenge attacks after going to police.

Mr Hollingsworth described the imitation firearm as a gas-powered pellet pistol, which the judge said was “still potentially lethal”.

The court heard McCalum had 21 convictions for 51 offences.

Rose Burns, mitigating, said the defendant had been a “victim of criminal exploitation”.

She said her client had been “fed Xanax” and this caused him to not know what he was doing.

The court heard McCalum was homeless at the time of the offence and had been taking drugs to forget his family issues.

Ms Burns said the defendant was a vulnerable young man and to him the incident was “completely random”.

She said McCalum had told her he thinks about the victim every day and he had never fired a gun at anyone before, adding: “I would never have even shot a paintball gun.”

The defendant had not been well physically and mentally while remanded in custody and members of BCP Council’s social services were worried about his welfare, the court heard.

Judge Climie said he had reduced the sentence from his initial starting point.

He told the defendant: “I have taken into account all mitigation in this case – your vulnerability and the concern of the local authority about your time in custody and your health, physical and mental.”

The judge said the carrying of firearms in a public place, whether imitation or not, which carry potentially lethal force will “always be dealt with very seriously by the criminal courts”.

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