A teen thug has been jailed after he went on a murderous shooting spree and killed at least 18 ducks with an air rifle.
Michael Prince, 18, caused armed police to be called when he and a friend took two guns to a stretch of the Trent and Mersey Canal in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffs.
A horrified resident called 999 after seeing the pair shooting the defenceless birds before taking aim at a horse on October 20 last year.
Remarkably, police caught Prince after finding photographs on the dead ducks posted on his Facebook page.
The teen, who told officers he had shot the birds “for a bit of fun”, was caged at North Staffordshire Magistrates Court on Thursday.
Prince, from Ball Green in Stoke-on-Trent, was sentenced to eight weeks in a young offenders’ institution after admitting possessing an air rifle in a public place and killing a wild bird.
Prosecutor Lynne Warrington told the court: “A member of the public was standing in his driveway, which faces the canal, when he heard an air rifle being fired.
“He saw two males, both carrying air weapons.
“He phoned the police and followed the two males while still on the phone.
“He saw the males firing at the ducks.
“When shot, some of the ducks began to flap their wings, clearly distressed, while others were being shot dead.
“He saw the two males then take aim at a horse.
“He walked along the canal and saw at least 18 ducks had been killed.
“The defendant was later identified by a member of the public who saw he had put photographs on Facebook.”
The court heard Prince and his friends had regularly gone onto farmland, with the owners’ permission, to shoot rats and rabbits.
Mark Bromley, defending, said Prince was a hard worker who now faces losing his job.
He added: “He has never signed on for benefits.
“He is five months into a 12-month apprenticeship with Howarth Timber.
“His employer has made it clear if he goes to custody his apprenticeship will be over.
“He comes from a family of hardworking people.
“What he did was terrible. He would be the first to admit that. He was a complete idiot.”
Animal charities welcomed the eight-week jail sentence.
Dawn Blacker, a volunteer at the British Wildlife Rescue Centre, based at Amerton Farm, near Stafford, said: “We have birds coming in all the time which have been shot with air rifles and no one ever seems to be caught.
“This is just senseless cruelty. I’m glad to hear someone has been prosecuted and sentenced.”
Staffordshire Police are appealing for anyone who knows the second youth involved in the shooting to contact them.
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