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British cyclist shot dead by hunter in French Alps

David Chazan
Marc Sutton has been named locally as the British cyclist killed in the French Alps in a hunting accident - Facebook

A British mountain biker has been shot dead in the French Alps after he was mistaken for an animal by a local hunter.

Marc Sutton, 34, originally from south Wales, died on Saturday evening after being struck by a single bullet while cycling in thick woods near the ski resort of Les Gets.

The 22-year-old gunman, who has a firearms licence, was with a group of around 20 other hunters when the tragedy occurred.

He had to be admitted to hospital after suffering from deep shock following the incident.

Mr Sutton, a chef, had lived in the Alps for a number of years and owned and ran a restaurant with his girlfriend near the village of Morzine.

Marc Sutton was a keen and experienced mountain biker  Credit: Facebook

Amie Henderson, 38, a friend and neighbour of the of the couple told the Telegraph: “This is a very tight-knit expat community and we are all deeply shocked. There is anger too because every year there are hunting accidents.”

Ms Henderson, who runs a local magazine for holidaymakers called Morzine Source, added: “Marc had a lot of friends in the area. We’ll all miss him.”

Another local wrote on Facebook:  "This is absolutely devastating. Everyone in our community will be affected by last night’s accident. So very sad for Marc and everyone with him."

A source involved with the police investigation said: "He died instantly after being hit with a single bullet. The accident happened on Saturday evening in thick woods. The shooter went into deep shock when he realised what he had done."

The source added: "He was riding a mountain bike on a popular and well used track, but it was difficult to get to and would not have been busy as darkness approached. The hunter may have mistaken him for an animal.”

Marc Sutton with his partner Jo Watts Credit: Facebook

But local prosecutor for the Thonon-Les-Bains region said: "Couldn't be confused with game, as he had a coloured helmet and a coloured mountain bike", suggesting the weapon might have gone off accidentally.

It is understood local police are treating the matter as aggravated manslaughter for which the gunman could be prosecuted and jailed.

“He was riding a mountain bike on a popular and well used track, but it was difficult to get to and would not have been busy as darkness approached. The hunter may have mistaken him for an animal.”

Marc Sutton was shot dead on Saturday evening

The Foreign Office said it was in contact with the local authorities and was ready to provide assistance to the man's family.

It is the latest in a series of hunting accidents in which people have been killed or severely wounded.

Last year a 59-year-old hiker was shot dead by a hunter in the Drôme and a 13-year-old boy died when he was accidentally shot by his grandfather.

In 2017 a woman who had been sitting in her garden was killed after a stray hunter's bullet passeds through her garden hedge.

In 2016, there were 18 fatal hunting accidents reported in France.