Scottish keepers have spoken of their shock at the news that a trainee gamekeeper in the Moray village of Tomintoul, whose body was found last week, killed himself after accidentally shooting dead his girlfriend.

Calum Murray, 18, was a student at North Highland College in Thurso and was on a work experience placement at the nearby Glenavon Estate when the incident happened.

In a statement, his family said: ?Calum completed a cookery course before embarking on a career as a keeper, and was very passionate about his new career. He loved the outdoors, walking with his dogs in the hills, and had shown a real flair and desire to progress with his gamekeeping.?

?Calum was much admired both by his family and his friends and we are very proud of all he had achieved. He will be loved and treasured forever.?

Reports claimed that Murray had just returned from clay pigeon shooting with his girlfriend, 16-year-old Sophie Taylor, and two other friends, and was cleaning his gun when the accident happened.

He then went outside and turned the gun on himself.

Writing on his blog, Scottish Gamekeepers Association chairman, Alex Hogg, said: ?The gamekeeping community in Scotland is a very close-knit one and several generations of families are often involved in the profession so there have been numerous calls to me and to the SGA office from other keepers and stalkers wanting us to pass on their sympathy to the families involved.?

?It?s a dreadful loss of two young lives and there?s great sadness across Scotland.?

Speaking later to Sky News, he said: ?Firearms and shotguns are part of daily working life in the gamekeeping profession and safety is absolutely paramount. Professional gamekeepers and other holders of firearms and shotguns have to abide by extremely strict conditions in order to secure licences.?

?One of the most fundamental rules of safety is that you never take a loaded shotgun into a vehicle or a house.?

  • Earl of Chiswick

    A truly tragic tale and my sympathies go to the families but how would anybody clean a loaded gun.