ACCUSED fisherman Picture: DOCTOR NGCOBO

Durban - A fisherman, who fired a shot to stop a fight between his Jack Russell and a German Shepherd has been found not guilty in the Durban Magistrate’s Court of discharging a firearm in public.

However, Douglas Imeson, 56, was found guilty of pointing a firearm at a 15-year-old.

The charges relate to an incident on Brighton Beach last August where Durban man Dirk van Ryneveld and his son, Louis, were walking on the beach with their dogs, when one of the dogs, Serg, a German Shepherd, got loose from his leash and attacked the fisherman’s Jack Russell.

Imeson was charged with discharging a firearm in a public place after he fired a shot into the sand to stop the fight.

He was also charged with pointing a firearm at Louis.

During his testimony Louis said that he ran after Serg and tried to separate the dogs, but Imeson cast his rod aside and fired a shot.

He said Imeson was angered by the incident and pointed the gun at him and told him he would shoot him and the dog.

Imeson pleaded not guilty to the charges and denied pointing the gun. He testified that he loved his dog and that he had kept the gun for the past 10 years to protect himself while he was fishing at night.

Imeson would occasionally visit gun ranges for practice, the court heard. He said he did not use the rod to separate the dogs because that did not work previously when his dog was attacked.

Handing down judgment last week, magistrate Melanie de Jager found that Imeson had acted reasonably by firing a shot to separate the dogs and found him not guilty of the discharge count.

However, she found him guilty of pointing a firearm at the teenager. She said given Imeson’s vast knowledge of guns and training, he should have known better than pointing a firearm at the teenager.

She also said Van Ryneveld was a “credible” witness, who stuck to his version despite tough cross-examination and corroborated the facts that his son was shocked and cried after the ordeal.

“He was also honest that he did not see the dogs fighting,” she said, pointing out that some of the accused’s version was untrue.

It was Imeson’s first instinct to fire the gun, the magistrate said.

Attorney Johan Jooste, acting for Imeson, told the court his client was a bachelor who lived with his dog.

“His only thing in life is fishing and he can’t fish at night without a gun,” he said, adding that the incident happened in “the heat of the moment”.

Imeson will be sentenced next month.

The Mercury