Sniper sparked armed police alert after firing air gun at Tynecastle.

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A SHORT-SIGHTED sniper sparked an armed police alert after he opened fire with an airgun on Tynecastle stadiumin the build up toa match.

Stewards at an evening match involving Hearts raised the alarm after they heard shots being fired by Johnathon Forster from his flat in Gorgie Road, Edinburgh.

One security officer then spotted 27-year-old Forster blazing away with the Chinese-made weapon.

Forster was originally charged with repeatedly firing the air pistol at fans attending the match.

But that part of the charge was dropped at Edinburgh Sheriff Court yesterday. He instead admitted culpably and recklessly discharging the firearm and repeatedly firing pellets towards Heart of Midlothian football ground.

Fiscal Depute John Kirk told the court:

“The accused’s house overlooks Tynecastle stadium.

“On the day in question there was to be an evening football match at Tynecastle.

“Prior to the game, two steward were at work outside the ground and were aware of perhaps two or three noises which they suspected to be airgun pellets, striking street furniture at the ground. “

He added:

“One of the stewards on hearing the first noise looked up and saw the barrel of an air weapon at a flat window. “

Police were then called and Forster was found at the flat with the air pistol on him, the fiscal said.

The incident happened at around 7.30 on August 24 when Hearts were playing Elgin City in the Cooperative Insurance League Cup, the court was told.

The fiscal added that armed police officers were among a high profile police presence attending the incident.

The weapon was submitted to a lab at Strathclyde for analysis, the fiscal said. It was found that the pistol was prone to going off accidentally if struck against a hard surface, the court heard.

“It’s sufficiently powerful to constitute a firearm but is exempt for firearms certificate control,’ said the fiscal.

Mr Kirk said there was no danger to anybody as a result of the crime.

Defence agent Julie Livingston said Forster had hearing and sight difficulties and asked the court to defer sentence for reports.

Sheriff Alistair Noble said it was a serious and concerning matter and deferred sentence until later this month.

The control over airguns in Scotland has been a major political issue since the death in Glasgow in 2005 of two-year-old Andrew Morton, who was shot in the head.

Nationalist politicians have tried and so far failed to persuade Westminster to devolve control over air weapon laws to Holyrood.

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