A BRITISH mountain biker has been shot dead by a hunter in the French Alps.
Marc Sutton, 34, died instantly after being hit by a bullet as he rode along a wooden path.
Police said the incident happened as a hunting party beat its way through thick woods close to the ski resort of Montriond on Saturday evening.
Restaurant owner Mr Sutton was said to be on a well-used but hard to reach mountain track when he was shot by the 22-year-old hunter.
‘The shooter went into deep shock when he realised what he had done,’ officials said. ‘He now faces trial and prison.’
A ‘full investigation’ has been opened into aggravated manslaughter.
Originally from Caerphilly, south Wales, Mr Sutton lived in the small ski resort town of Les Gets where he ran the Wild Beets Kitchen restaurant.
Grenoble-based newspape Le Dauphiné Libéré reported that up to 18 hunters and guests were taking part in the ‘battue’ but apparently failed to notice the rider, who was wearing bright clothes and was easily identifiable.
‘He was on a popular track, although it was hard to get to and would not have been very busy as darkness approached. It may be that he was mistaken for a fast moving animal,’ a prosecutor said.
Tributes were paid to Mr Sutton on Facebook last night. One person wrote: ‘I met him this summer, real nice chap, such a tragedy.’
Another said: ‘This is absolutely devastating. Everyone in our community will be affected by last night’s accident.’
The foreign office said: ‘We are in contact with the authorities about the death of a British man in France, and we are providing assistance to his family.’
It is the latest in a series of shootings involving passers-by being killed or severely wounded during France’s hunting season, which started last month.