John Soares was sentenced at Maidstone Crown Court
by Keith Hunt
A thug has been jailed for 12 years for shooting his partner with an airgun almost nine years ago.
John Soares was sentenced in his absence having fled the UK after being granted bail before his trial.
A jury at Maidstone Crown Court convicted the 47-year-old Portuguese national of wounding with intent.
He was living with his French girlfriend Martina Almansa and their daughter in Gordon Road, Ashford, when the offence was committed in July 2003.
Soares became violent when Miss Almansa refused to give him some money, telling him their daughter Laura needed it for a school trip.
After drinking, he grabbed a CO2 rapid fire pellet gun from a cupboard and shot Miss Almansa twice in the left thigh.
She fled from the bedroom into the kitchen, where Soares fired the gun at her face. The pellet hit her arm as she raised it to stop her face being hit.
Laura walked into the kitchen to see blood coming from her mother and her father holding the weapon.
"if a pellet were fired into the eye it would certainly blind the victim…” – judge charles macdonald qc
Doctors were able to remove the pellet from Miss Almansa's arm, but not those in her thigh because it was dangerously close to a nerve.
Soares claimed he shot the victim accidentally.
Dominic Connolly, prosecuting, said Soares had numerous previous convictions, mainly for dishonesty.
He failed to attend his trial scheduled for 2004. He remained at large until his arrest last year, when he was jailed for eight months for skipping bail.
Soares was then granted bail by Judge Martin Joy, but failed to attend for the latest trial. Both he and Miss Almansa are thought to be abroad.
Passing sentence, Judge Charles Macdonald QC said although the gun used was not powerful, it was classed as a lethal weapon.
"If a pellet were fired into the eye it would certainly blind the victim," he said. "It could enter the brain and cause brain damage.
"The defendant deliberately shot her three times. It is almost impossible to fire it accidentally. There is no doubt this was a deliberate attack on a terrified woman.
"There are no mitigating factors whatsoever."