Dad shot him­self in the head as he played with gun

Birmingham Post - - NEWS -

ABIRMINGHAM dad died af­ter shoot­ing him­self in the head in what may have been a game of ‘Rus­sian roulette’.

Roofer Christo­pher James Col­gan, 31, died in hospi­tal as a re­sult of a sin­gle gun­shot wound to the head, an in­quest heard.

The hor­rific in­ci­dent hap­pened at his best friend’s house in Park­house Drive, Erd­ing­ton, on Friday, March 2.

Known as Chrissy, he suf­fered an un­sur­viv­able brain in­jury.

A firearms ex­pert ruled that he had pressed a re­volver against his head and be­hind his ear be­fore pulling the trig­ger.

The coro­ner said he did not know if he had been play­ing Rus­sian Roulette or not, so would not call it that.

But the friend who was with him at the time said the tragedy had fol­lowed a re­mark about the deadly game.

Birm­ing­ham Coro­ner’s Court heard how Chrissy went to see best friend Gavin McDon­ald at around 9pm, and they sat at the din­ing ta­ble smok­ing cannabis and drink­ing beer.

Chrissy later pulled a gun from within his cloth­ing, with Gavin de­scrib­ing it as a “cow­boy gun they use in the movies”.

Ev­i­dence was read out ex­plain­ing how Chrissy “kept tak­ing the bul­lets in and out” of the bar­rel sev­eral times, open­ing it up and tip­ping the bul­lets onto the ta­ble.

Fac­tory worker Gavin said the gun looked like what they play Rus­sian roulette with, claim­ing Chrissy asked: “Are you go­ing to do it, then?”

He told his friend – de­scribed at the time as be­ing par­tic­u­larly high and hy­per – sev­eral times to put the gun down.

The court heard that it was at this point Chrissy put the gun to his head. Gavin looked away, scream­ing ‘No!’ be­fore the gun went off.

Emer­gency ser­vices were called at

It seems to me that he was just car­ry­ing on with the gun and prob­a­bly lost track of where the bul­lets were

9.59pm, and armed po­lice ar­rived to the house on the Wyr­ley Birch es­tate 11 min­utes later. Paramedics ar­rived at 10.17pm.

When po­lice ar­rived, the gun could not be found and has yet to be re­trieved more than three months on, de­spite sev­eral search war­rants be­ing ex­e­cuted.

Emma Brown, as­sis­tant coro­ner for Birm­ing­ham and Soli­hull, said: “West Mid­lands Po­lice in­ves­ti­gated the shoot­ing with as­sis­tance from bal­lis­tics ex­pert Huw Grif­fiths. It is Mr Grif­fiths’s con­clu­sion that the likely ex­pla­na­tion for the in­jury is that Chris fired the gun him­self, and it is also my find­ing that Chris fired the gun him­self.

“I’ve come to that con­clu­sion, based on the ev­i­dence of Mr Grif­fiths, that all the ev­i­dence points to Chris sit­ting down and plac­ing the muz­zle of the gun against his head him­self.

“Hav­ing seen Gavin give ev­i­dence and his height, it would seem un­likely to me that Gavin would not have been able to stop him from be­ing able to do that.

“I also ac­cept Gavin’s ev­i­dence that they were friends; that they were hav­ing a pleas­ant time, chat­ting and hav­ing a drink to­gether and there would be noth­ing to prompt him to take that ac­tion.

“I ac­cept the ev­i­dence he’s given that Chris was a bit hy­per that night and, com­bined with the fact that he’d been drink­ing for a while and had smoked a bit, it seems to be that the likely ex­pla­na­tion is he’d lost his judg­ment and it was all too easy for him to pick up the gun and place it to his head, not in­tend­ing there to be a live round when he fired it.

“I don’t know whether he was start­ing a game of Rus­sian roulette and I’m not go­ing to call it that.

“It seems to me that he was just car­ry­ing on with the gun and prob­a­bly lost track of where the bul­lets were at the time he fired it. It is for that rea­son that I’m go­ing to record a con­clu­sion of mis­ad­ven­ture.

“As I’ve ex­plained, this means that some­body did do a de­lib­er­ate act but it had the un­in­tended con­se­quence of caus­ing a death.”



Christo­pher James Col­gan and, inset, trib­utes at the house in Park­house Drive, Erd­ing­ton

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