A Portuguese man has been jailed for five and a half years after shooting one of his neighbours in a case of mistaken identity.

José Maria Correia, 53, was convicted at the São João Novo court, Oporto of attempted murder and owning an illegal weapon.

The incident took place on October 27th 2007.

Correia asked neighbour Anabela Silva Cruz to help catch his cat, which had escaped on to an adjacent piece of land.

Another neighbour, José Pedro Macedo, a gay man, tried to join the hunt, but Correia yelled insults at him about his sexual orientation.

After catching his cat, Correia went to his neighbour’s house with a 6.35 calibre Browning pistol and fired at a person on the patio, which he assumed was Mr Macedo.

In fact it was Ms Cruz.

She was rushed to the São João hospital and had a surgical procedure which resulted in a 23-centimetre scar.

The court heard that it was a case of mistaken identity, that Correia believed it was his other neighbour on the patio, and was convinced José Pedro “was a homosexual and that there had been contact of a sexual nature between the neighbour and his cat,” according to The Portugal News Online.

The court ruled that Correia acted in a deliberate and conscious manner with the intent of killing José Pedro.

“Shooting someone for being a homosexual and for supposedly having sexual intercourse with a cat he helped rescue and for making the animal homosexual too is possibly one of the silliest motives I have ever heard in my life”, said the magistrate.

Correia was ordered to pay Anabela Cruz €22,000 (£17,400) in compensation.