A FATHER accused of shooting his friend in the head while firing at cans during a weekend “tragedy” in a Fleurieu Peninsula forest has been freed from custody.
Bailey Davenport, 21, suffered a bullet wound to the head at Second Valley Reserve, Parawa, about 40km west of Victor Harbor, while “hanging out” with four friends on the afternoon of Sunday, July 23. Among the group was one of his best friends, Hayden Dove Fenton, 28, who was charged with an aggravated count of endangering the young father’s life during the weekend adventure gone wrong.
Fenton, a father of a three-year-old daughter, on Monday returned to the Victor Harbor home of his parents and guarantors Dave and Robyn, after a magistrate granted him “strict” $1000 home detention bail.
While the exact circumstances of what transpired have not been publicly disclosed, The Advertiser has learned the group had been shooting at cans while “hanging out” around a bonfire and woodchopping. Major Crime detectives had publicly expressed concern about the conflicting witness accounts from the group, including one of Mr Davenport’s young cousins, friend Fletcher Teague as well as his partner Claudia.
But Stacey Carter, defending, told the Christies Beach Magistrates Court that issues had now been “addressed” and authorities had accepted a revised version of events. Police are now investigating whether the incident was a “terrible accident”, although it is understood the witnesses have told detectives that no one saw the fatal shot being fired. The group have told friends and family Mr Davenport, of Hayborough, had been using a chainsaw some distance away from them and it was still operating when they discovered him injured.
Ms Carter told Magistrate Brian Nitschke the charge was not expected to change, adding: “The incident before the court is nothing short of a tragedy.” The weapon, believed to be a .22 rifle, was recovered after Fenton told police of its location.
After the shooting Mr Davenport, a popular Victor Harbor Kangaroos footballer who worked at a local tyre centre, was driven the 30-minute journey by his friends to the town’s South Coast District Hospital.
He was later flown to the Flinders Medical Centre, where he died the following day. His friends and colleagues have paid tribute as they rally around his grieving family.
The acting Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Brenton Illingworth and Major Crime detectives did not oppose home detention bail for Fenton under strict conditions. The conditions include clauses of not contacting witnesses, not possessing firearms or ammunition, not applying for a passport and being electronically tracked.
Fenton, a plasterer, declined to comment as he was released from custody – where he embraced friends and family outside court. He will next appear in the Adelaide Magistrates Court in October.