Man who lost eye in hunting incident says charges against shooter dropped due to police budget restraints

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A man who lost his eye after being shot on a duck hunting trip by a fellow hunter says he feels let down by the system.

The Crown says there was insufficient evidence, but Jim Morton says a lack of funding is behind the decision.
Source: 1 NEWS

Today a charge of careless use of a firearm causing injury against the man, who has interim name suppression, was dropped.

Jim Morton told 1 NEWS today that the past year has been tough for him and his wife Jenny.

He has a glass eye and the pellet from the bullet is lodged just millimeters from his brain.

He has been unable to work for 11 months and struggles with balance.

He recently broke his ankle after falling over.

"The number of operations I've had, I've had a lot of work… co-ordination, lots of physio, lots of eye specialists."


The Crown told the court it was given an expert report that was reviewed by ERS, and that it didn't meet evidence threshholds for prosecution to continue.

But Mr Morton thinks the reason charges were dropped comes down to funding.

1 NEWS has obtained a recording of a meeting between Jim Morton and police prosecutor Ben Vanderkolk.

Mr Vanderkolk said in the recording that there is no money in the police budget to retain an expert, stating police have a limited budget and much of the ESR budget has been used on homicides in the central region.

But he today distanced himself from those comments and told 1 NEWS it came down to evidence.

"I think it would be irresponsible to take it to jury trial when you don't have evidence there is no public interest in having a trial just because we want to."

In a written statement Detective Inspector Ross McKay said:

"In respect of the case before the court, Police can say that the decisions made were based on evidential sufficiency.

"An expert was not requested or declined. The defence submission was reviewed by a leading ballistics expert and it was decided that the findings could not be refuted.

"Central District has a forensic budget, which is sufficiently adequate to service all of its forensic and investigative needs."

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