A FORMER soldier is suing a Scottish paintball firm for up to £400,000 after he was shot in the face, losing the sight in one eye.
Allan Weir was shot from less than 6ft by a paintball pellet travelling at around 280 feet per second, causing his right eyeball to “burst”.
The father of two from Edinburgh has struggled to find work since the horrific incident and still suffers intense pain from the injury.
The 28-year-old former guardsman in the Scots Guards was working as a marshal at the paintball company in 2008 when a fellow worker shot at him, not realising the gun was loaded.
Calvin Blyth was convicted at Edinburgh Sheriff Court the following year of culpable and reckless conduct and sentenced to 150 hours community service.
But Weir is now suing APE Paintball, from Ratho, Edinburgh, at the Court of Session for compensation.
He alleges the firm failed to provide marshals with proper training in the handling of paintball weapons.
The company – whose name stands for Alternative Paintball Experience – strongly deny the claims and allege Weir sparked the incident by “shooting”Blythin the leg with compressed air.
Weir says he has fallen heavily in to debt since the shooting.
He said: “I can’t work. I’m just finding it hard to adjust to life. I can’t even drive anymore.”
The physical consequences of the shooting are just as serious. Weir can do little more than make out vague shapes with his right eye.
“It’s like when the glass on you shower screen steams up,” he said. “I can’t focus on anything.
“Bright light tends to bother me, I get migraines if it’s left in the light too long.”
Even eating cold food causes intense pain in his damaged eye – a result of the nerve damage caused by the pellet.
The amount of damages sought from APE has not been agreed.
Last year, Anthony Phee from Manchester, won £400,000 in damages after he was blinded in one eye after being struck by a ball at Niddrie Castle golf club, Winchburgh, West Lothian golf club.
He said: “It could be £400,000, it could be less – as long as my boys get a future.”
Weir said he was suing the company because “we weren’t given proper training, it was a shambles”.
He added: “You’ve got to be careful if you’re working with firearms. I was in the army, that’s why I’m so careful with them.
“There wasn’t even an introduction. You would think with firearms there should be a little bit of training.”
Weir had only started work at the paintball site on September 6, 2008, the day before he was shot. He had been discharged from the Scots Guards after suffering a knee injury.
He was helping Blyth and another workmate clean the weapons for customers, who currently pay £55 for a day’s skirmishing.
Weir said he was not wearing a safety mask at the time because he was in the “safe area” and no other marshal was wearing eye protection.
Admitting it “wasn’t the smartest thing to do”, Weir said he fired an unloaded paintball gun at Blyth’s leg, having first made sure it was not loaded.
Blyth, who had been working at the site for 14 months, responded by picking up a nearby gun and shooting at Weir’s face without checking if the gun was loaded.
Weir said he was knocked over by the impact of the paintball.
“It felt like being hit by a hammer, I thought my eye had been burst,” he said.
Doctors found that the iris – the coloured part of the eye – had been dislodged by the impact and there was no hope of restoring his sight.
He underwent surgery last year to deal with chronic headaches, and has only recently had stitches taken out of the eye.
Returning to the army has been ruled out because of the eye injury and even everyday tasks such as using a computer and driving are beyond him.
“If I use a computer for more than 15 minutes I get headaches,” he said.
Weir, who looks after his sons, aged eight and 15 months, full –time is now £14,000 in debt.
“I just want to get my life back on track,” he said.
But the manager of the paintball firm, who is the defender in the court action, said Allan must take responsibility for his actions.
Gordon Craig said: “If he had been wearing his safety mask it would never have occurred. He was fully aware of that.
“It’s a load of nonsense that there wasn’t proper training in place.”
He said: “I now tell people as part of my safety briefing that one of my staff was badly injured in the eye.”
Craig added that Blyth became ‘infuriated’ after Allan shot the unloaded gun at him.
Paintball rose to prominence in the UK in the 1980s, and the UK Paintball Association has over 500,000 current or formers players registered.
But there have been numerous reports of injuries.
In August 2011 a woman in England had one of her silicone breast implants rupture after it was hit by a paintball shot.