AUGUSTA — An evening of dinner, games and drinks for two couples that ended in a gunshot wound because of a struggle for a gun has cost Paul Nicholas Coyne a decade in prison.

Coyne, 32, of Winthrop and formerly of Mercer, was sentenced Wednesday at the Capital Judicial Center for aggravated assault and illegal possession of a firearm that occurred Jan. 23, 2014, on Spring Street in Gardiner.

Coyne had pleaded guilty to those charges on June 5, 2015. He also admitted violating probation and received a concurrent 42-month probation revocation.

A sentencing memo by Coyne’s attorney, Luann Calcagni, said the victim, Josh Belyea tried “to grab the firearm in Mr. Coyne’s hand resulting in a struggle, during which time the firearm inadvertently discharged.”

Belyea was shot in the leg.

An affidavit by Gardiner Police Detective Michael Durham says Belyea told him that Coyne and Coyne’s girlfriend had joined Belyea at another woman’s Spring Street apartment, and the men became embroiled in a fight near the end of the evening. Belyea later told police he had been flirting with Coyne’s girlfriend and that Coyne, who was intoxicated on the coffee brandy the two men had been drinking, objected, went to his car and returned to the apartment with a handgun.

The shooting occurred about 12:25 a.m., and Coyne fled the scene before police and rescue personnel arrived. At the time, there were a number of outstanding warrants for Coyne’s arrest.

Calcagni had recommended an underlying sentence of 10 years but suggested suspending four of them.

Instead, the judge imposed the full 10 years.

“The state is pleased with the 10-year sentence on Paul Coyne as he is no longer a candidate for probation having failed to comply with conditions too many times in the past,” District Attorney Maeghan Maloney said in a comment sent via email after the hearing.

Coyne, who has a lengthy criminal record dating to 2003, was located a day later in a vehicle in Massachusetts. He was with his girlfriend and his brother. At the time, Massachusetts police said they recovered a 9 mm pistol, ammunition, a white powdery substance believed to be heroin and drug paraphernalia in the vehicle.

In February 2013, Coyne was sentenced to four years in jail, with all but six months suspended, and two years of probation, for a conviction on charges of assault with a dangerous weapon and unlawful possession of scheduled drugs after reportedly stabbing a man in Winthrop during a fight related to drugs.

In August 2009, Coyne was convicted on multiple charges including theft, eluding an officer and operating under the influence, after leading police on a 30-mile chase. During the pursuit, he rammed a police cruiser in Augusta. For that, he got 30 months in jail, a two-year license suspension and an order to pay restitution to the Maine State Police.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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