An Italian tourist who shot and killed his lifelong friend while pigeon-hunting in Scotland has been found not guilty of culpable homicide.
Franco Moroni was found not guilty by a jury in just 30 minutes.
Mr. Moroni, 62, admitted shooting Marco Cavola in the back of the head at point-blank range with a shotgun.
The tourist from Loriano, near Rome, testified in court that his friend stood up in front of him the moment he pulled the trigger on his shotgun while shooting pigeons.
Mr Moroni expressed regret following the incident on the Rossie Estate in Inchture, near Dundee, in 2019.
He claimed it had completely altered his life and turned him into a recluse.
According to reports, the shooting agent who organized the trip had already been fined nearly £5,000 for health and safety violations as well as supplying the fatal weapon to an unlicensed shooter.
During the week-long trial, Mr Moroni stated that he and Mr Cavola, a childhood friend, were avid porcini mushroom collectors in the woods near their home in the Rome region.
He claimed that Mr Cavola and fellow vacationer Onorio Galoni were avid hunters who had persuaded him to join their pigeon shooting trip to Scotland.
Mr. Moroni stated that he had shot two or three times but was not a hunting expert.
He said the trio were met by local sporting agent Peter Bruce and had a brief shooting outing on the day they arrived.
The tragedy occurred the following day.
Moroni said the group were taken to the estate and were each given a shotgun and a warning not to aim towards the road when firing the weapons. He said no further instruction was given.
Mr Moroni and Mr Cavola were placed together in a hide.
The jury had already heard how having two shooters together in the same hide could be “extremely dangerous”.
Mr Moroni told the trial: “At a certain point, a bird came across. Marco shot three times. He then told me ‘shoot, shoot, shoot’ and then he got down.
“At that point I rose to my feet and shot and then he also got up at that point. He did the movement so quickly – lowering himself and getting up again.
“As I was turning I shot him. It was a complete tragedy. Everything was happening. I was screaming for Onorio.”
Sgt Ian Borthwick told the court Mr Moroni was “extremely distraught, distressed, in a state, shouting and wailing” as he was being interviewed.
Shooting agent Peter Bruce, 56, told the court he had slipped away briefly to buy diesel and returned to discover Mr Cavola had been shot dead.
Mr Bruce, of Meigle, said he had known the victim for a decade and had organized a number of shooting trips for him and his friends.
Following the verdict, Mr Cavola’s wife Sara issued a translated statement through her solicitor.
She said: “I understand it was an accident but this decision is absurd.”
“How should I explain this to our daughters and to our son who is still very young?
“How should I explain to them the man who killed their dad is now out from court with no consequences for what he did?
“This is wrong.”