A TEENAGER shot his pal in the eye with a BB gun, leaving him badly injured in a “childish prank” which went disastrously wrong.

Morgan Kelly lay in wait in his garden for his pal Riley Walton and fired the weapon, intending to hit the fence and scare him.

But the pellet passed through a gap in the wooden slats and hit 18-year-old Riley directly in the eye.

Megan Tollitt, prosecuting, told Bolton Crown Court how Kelly immediately tended to his friend and offered him cash, asking him not to go to police once the seriousness of the injury became apparent.

Riley, who works as an apprentice electrician, suffered bleeding and a torn retina and, in a victim statement read in court, stated that his vision had not fully returned following the incident on February 6 last year and he may still need surgery.

Miss Tollitt told how Riley turned up at Kelly’s Southfield Drive, Westhoughton, home to visit him at 8.30pm.

“The defendant was in the garden of his address,” said Miss Tollitt.

“Mr Walton describes that he could hear a crackling noise coming from the back gate and giggling at the side of the house.

“As he walked towards the gate the defendant discharged a BB gun towards the fence panels and a pellet from the gun hit Mr Walton in his right eye.”

Kelly and another friend helped Riley into the house and put ice on his eye.

“The defendant repeatedly told his friend, ‘I’m sorry’,” said Miss Tollitt.

Kelly told his friend he should go to hospital and he attended the Royal Bolton Hospital after his vision progressively got worse during the evening.

“At one point he couldn’t see at all through his right eye,” said Miss Tollitt.

Doctors discovered bleeding within the eye and a torn retina, which needed emergency laser treatment, and problems with his vision were ongoing.

After the incident Kelly sent his friend several text messages apologising.

“He offers to give his friend money and asks him not to report it to police,” said Miss Tollitt.

He told Riley: “I was shooting at the fence panels to scare you with the sound, but a few bullets went through.”

When questioned by police Kelly accepted that the shooting was “reckless”. “He said he was very sorry, he was ashamed of himself and he hoped his friend was ok,” said Miss Tollitt.

Pleading guilty to causing grievous bodily harm, Kelly, who has no previous convictions, described his behaviour as a “childish and foolish prank”.

In a victim statement Riley told the court: “Although he was a friend, those split-second actions have caused me life-changing injuries. I don’t know whether I will regain full sight in my right eye.”

Steven Swift, defending, described the incident as a “childish prank” and said Kelly, who lives with his mother, is genuinely remorseful.

Judge Graeme Smith sentenced Kelly to 12 months in prison, suspended for two years. He will be subject to an 8pm to 6am curfew for four months and was ordered to pay Riley £1,000 in compensation.

“It was an act of extreme foolishness and recklessness,” Judge Smith told him. “It had the misfortune of hitting him in the eye, almost the worst place it could have hit him.”