Jury clears man accused of harpoon attack on boy

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The Independent Online

A man accused of harpooning a teenage boy in the face walked free from court yesterday after a jury accepted he had acted in self-defence.

A man accused of harpooning a teenage boy in the face walked free from court yesterday after a jury accepted he had acted in self-defence.

Nathan Kirk, 25, produced a scuba gun used for underwater fishing when an angry gang came looking for him at his girlfriend's flat in Thatcham, Berkshire, last year after an earlier dispute about a telephone kiosk.

A brawl broke out in which Mr Kirk was stabbed within a few millimetres of his heart. He responded by fetching a harpoon gun from inside the flat and in an ensuing struggle the gun went off into 15-year-old Matthew Hawkins' face, causing him to lose an eye.

Mr Kirk maintained that the weapon had gone off by accident when he was struck in the face by a baseball bat and argued that he had brought the device out of the flat because he feared for his life.

The jury at Reading Crown Court cleared Mr Kirk, of Upper Inkpen, Hungerford, Berkshire, of unlawfully possessing an offensive weapon, having earlier acquitted him of causing grievous bodily harm .

Matthew Hawkins, his half-brother, Barry Lovegrove, and his sister's boyfriend, Derek Watkins, were also charged in connection with the fight and tried earlier this year. The proceedings could not be reported until the completion of Mr Kirk's trial. Hawkins was convicted of affray and given a community punishment, Lovegrove was jailed for 18 months for affray and Mr Watkins was cleared.