Distraught relatives of the victim, Paul Tierney, 27, a father-of-two, left the court in tears after the judge, Mr Justice Potter, who said the case involved a 'tragic and striking lesson', passed sentence.
Ahmed Muhsen, 30, of Toxteth, Liverpool, had admitted manslaughter and possessing a Browning pistol and ammunition without a certificate. The judge said: 'If householders are disturbed and terrified by people who kick down their doors then either out of anger or terror they will react and I hope this will be a lesson everyone will learn.'
He told Muhsen: 'You should never have had a gun, but given that you had, in my view your reaction was one which most people in your position might well have displayed.'
The court was told that the tragedy on 15 April last year involved a burglary which had gone 'very wrong'. Muhsen, a British-born Yemeni, was staying overnight at a shop in Lodge Lane, Toxteth, as security guard for a friend, as a result of a previous burglary.
Nigel Gilmour QC, for the prosecution, said earlier that evening, Mr Tierney and two friends, Thomas McClean and John Carmichael, had gone out to burgle and toured around in a car finally choosing the Lodge Lane shop.
They kicked in a side door and on reaching the lounge door kicked that in as well. On the other side of the door in semi-darkness was Muhsen who shouted out in Arabic.
'The three burglars were standing close together near to the door and he fired a single shot entering the chest of the deceased just below the right nipple,' Mr Gilmour said.
All three men fled and after helping the victim into the back seat of the car drove to the home of Mr Carmichael's sister. She and a friend then drove Mr Tierney to hospital, but he was already dead by the time they arrived.
Meanwhile, Muhsen, unaware that the bullet had hit anyone, telephoned the police. But because of his broken English it was several hours before they located the shop. Muhsen was there waiting for them and officers found the loaded gun which he admitted having bought along with five bullets for pounds 30.
Stephen Riordan QC, for the defence, said that Muhsen had pleaded guilty on the grounds of recklessness. He had bought the gun after his home was burgled and did not realise he had to have a certificate for it as weapons are openly carried in the Yemen.
'The three burglars came into the room with sticks and there was shouting on both sides. The critical point was reached when, rather than retreat, Mr Tierney advanced towards him and at that moment he fired the gun. He fired in the general direction, but above the shapes he could see in front of him. The gun is notoriously inaccurate,' Mr Riordan said.
The judge jailed Muhsen for manslaughter, with concurrent terms of 12 months and three months for the firearms offences.
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