Sheffield man facing jail for deadly rifle prank

Russell Fairchild has admitted manslaughter of Chris Humphreys.
Russell Fairchild has admitted manslaughter of Chris Humphreys.
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A man has admitted killing a friend with a shot from an air rifle – in a prank which went tragically wrong.

Russell Fairchild pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of 24-year-old Chris Humphreys – on the basis he ‘intended to frighten in jest only’ while handling the gun inside a house on Handsworth Grange Road, Handsworth, Sheffield, in May.

Chris was shot in the head and died in hospital six days later. Fairchild, aged 47, has been warned he will be sent to jail.

Det Insp Victoria Short, said afterwards: “This case tragically demonstrates owning an air weapon can have fatal consequences.

“Even though air weapons can be legally owned, they are very dangerous and must be treated as such.

“They must be used in the correct manner, stored safely, and not played with under the influence of alcohol.”

Fairchild was due to stand trial at Sheffield Crown Court later this month, but admitted manslaughter yesterday.

Judge Julian Goose QC, Recorder of Sheffield, told him: “This is an extremely unusual case. You’ve pleaded guilty to manslaughter with a basis of plea the prosecution accept. You know custody is inevitable.”

In a statement Chris’ family said: “Today marks the end of this terrible ordeal, and we can now begin to grieve the devastating loss of Chris who was a fantastic son and brother.

“We would like to thank the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, who were fantastic, and South Yorkshire Police for their support.”

Fairchild, of Handsworth Grange Road, will be sentenced at Sheffield Crown Court on October 24.

He was released on conditional bail until then.