Family tell of daughter's shoot ordeal

A COUPLE have told how their family's life was changed forever after their teenage daughter was shot in the shoulder by her boyfriend.Christine and Tony Coulson were just feet away from their 19-year-old daughter Michelle when she was shot in the shoulder in what they described as a “tragic course of events”.

A COUPLE have told how their family's life was changed forever after their teenage daughter was shot in the shoulder by her boyfriend.

Christine and Tony Coulson were just feet away from their 19-year-old daughter Michelle when she was shot in the shoulder in what they described as a “tragic course of events”.

Michelle was injured when her boyfriend of just under a year, Alexander Powell, dropped a gun while at his father's house in Grundisburgh - and the weapon fired as it fell, slamming a bullet into her shoulder.

Mr Coulson said: “Michelle was in the hallway and I was on the doorstep beside her. There was a bang. I looked at Michelle and her face was full of shock - I thought she was just reacting to the sound of the bang.


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“But then she started to slide against the wall. I took hold of her and there was some blood coming from her shoulder. She said she had been shot and it was only then that I realised what had happened.”

Michelle's mother, a nurse at Ipswich Hospital with more than 30 years experience, was outside and went to her daughter when she heard the shot.

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Mrs Coulson, of Chatsworth Drive, Ipswich, said: “Michelle was conscious and talking. She couldn't breathe properly and she said she couldn't feel her legs.

“I kept trying to reassure her that everything would be okay. That's what you do as a mother.”

The bullet penetrated through Michelle's shoulder and neck, causing a complete lesion through her spinal cord, resulting in her being confined for life in a wheelchair.

Michelle is now tetrapalegic, which means she has limited use of her shoulders, arms and fingers, and no movement in her legs.

She spent the first 13 days in the intensive care unit at Ipswich Hospital before being transferred to the specialist spinal unit at the Royal National Orthopedic Hospital in Middlesex.

Her first six weeks there were spent wearing a “halo” - a head frame bolted to the scalp.

The family said Michelle had had a tough time in hospital, as no sooner did she take a couple of steps forward, it was followed by three steps back.

Mrs Coulson said: “Obviously she has down days, but she is always positive and is determined to make the best of a bad job.

“Michelle's skin is very soft and vulnerable to tearing, it's just her genetic make-up, but it has caused a few setbacks.”

Michelle is able to feed herself with her right hand, but is unable to cut food. “She can't hold shiny glasses as she can't grip them as she doesn't have much power in her hands,” said Mrs Coulson.

Michelle, a former Copleston High School and Suffolk College pupil, will never return to the family home as she will need a specially-adapted home and a 24-hour carer.

“Michelle doesn't want to be a drain on society. She wants to be as independent as possible. She is determined to get behind the wheel of a car again and work for a living,” said Mrs Coulson.

“I can see Michelle campaigning for disabled rights. She hates seeing an injustice and will go into battle if she feels something is not right.”

Michelle had been planning a career as a paramedic and, despite her injuries, has not given up at fulfilling her dream and is hoping to be some kind of medical adviser.

She is expected to remain in hospital for at least another three months and a trust fund is soon to be set up in her name.

Mr and Mrs Coulson praised the nursing care that Michelle has received and also thanked their employers and work colleagues for their support.

Powell, 22, of Stoney Road Grundisburgh, pleaded guilty at Bury St Edmunds Crown Court last month to a charge of affray on September 12 last year.

He has also admitted possessing a handgun without a firearm certificate on the same date and will be sentenced on May 7.

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