Gunman went on run for 18 years after firing shots outside pub

Paul Hill handed himself into police in Stirling last year after the incident in Killin in 1996.

High Court: Hill was jailed for six months (file pic).
High Court: Hill was jailed for six months (file pic). Deadline

A gunman who went on the run for 18 years after firing shots outside a village pub has been jailed.

Paul Hill fired two shots in the air following a "stramash" and spent years evading the Scottish justice system living in Ireland, England and the Channel Islands.

The 42-year-old handed himself into police last year, nearly two decades after he admitted in 1997 to culpably and recklessly discharging the gun to the danger of others.

On Wednesday, the High Court in Edinburgh heard Hill was 21 at the time of the original offence, which had occurred while he was out with parents, sister and a friend in the bar of the Clachaig Hotel in Killin, Stirlingshire.

Hill discharged the firearm in a struggle outside the pub after a row had erupted over a drink being spilled on his father William on January 14, 1996.

Lord Ericht told the accused: "Had you not decided to go to the police and hand yourself in then it is unlikely your past would have caught up with you.

"Over 20 years ago you discharged a firearm in a struggle with another man outside a bar. You failed to attend trial and since then have been on the run."

The judge added: "Nonetheless, the discharge of a firearm is a serious matter. You have also defied the authority of the court by failing to attend for trial and evaded arrest since then."

Lord Ericht said in the circumstances there was no alternative to a custodial sentence and jailed him for six months.

Defence counsel Brian McConnachie QC told the court: "Just very shortly before his trial the events in Dunblane had taken place and, perhaps somewhat unwisely, the solicitor then acting for him suggested he would be made an example of because of the circumstances."

'Had you not decided to go to the police and hand yourself in then it is unlikely your past would have caught up with you.'
Lord Ericht

Mr McConnachie said at that stage Hill panicked and ran off. He went to Glasgow before moving to Guernsey in the Channel Islands for a number of years and then moved to Dublin in Ireland before settling in Harrogate, North Yorkshire.

He worked as a tree surgeon and landscape gardener and then nursed his mother after she was diagnosed with cancer until her death. His father was also suffering ill health.

Mr McConnachie said: "There were family discussions which resulted in him making the decision that the time had come to face up to what happened in 1996."

Hill turned up at a police station in Stirling in November last year to hand himself in to officers.

The court heard during the 1996 incident, Hill's father had become involved in an altercation with a man outside the hotel bar after last orders.

They ended up on the ground after pushing and shoving each other. Hill went to intervene, before Crichton Davies tried to speak to him.

Mr Davies described Hill as being "really wound up" and told him to go home. Hill got into a struggle with Mr Davies.

Advocate depute Ashley Edwards QC told the court: "During the struggle with Crichton Davies, the accused produced a small handgun and discharged it into the air. 

"Various people in the vicinity heard what is described as being a 'loud gunshot'."

Mr Davies tried to disarm Hill during a struggle and the gun was fired into the air for a second time. Police later recovered four live cartridges but the gun was never found.

Defence counsel Mr McConnachie said: "He (Hill) has maintained throughout that the weapon was not his. He was given it in the pub, basically to look at, and he ended up with it in his possession.

"When he left the pub there was some kind of stramash going on with his father."

The QC described the incident as "a one-off, impetuous, reckless act which had never been repeated". 

He added: "Since 1996 there have been no further offences of any kind. The prospect of him reoffending is extremely unlikely."

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