Carla Maney
Carla Maney ?

A contestant on the BBC's Saturday-night talent show The Voice has described how she was shot as a child, after blundering into a gun battle between the IRA and police.

Classically trained Carla Maney, 48, and her singing partner had all four judges vying to coach them after last month's blind audition.

But in an interview with The Sun she has described overcoming a series of adversities to pursue her dream career, and told how she was seriously injured as a child when she was caught in a hail of bullets in her home town of Newry in Northern Ireland.

She said: "Everything was happening in slow motion and I could see all these bullets - these little black dots - flying past me.

"Then a bullet hit the top of my leg and I felt a rush of warm blood. It gushed out of the exit wound like a fountain and I was covered in blood. I thought I was dead.

"The next minute my father was picking me up and running to safety. I remember he gripped my wounds but I couldn't scream because I was in shock.

"I was so bloody that he didn't know if I had been hit once or if I was riddled with bullets. If I had been there any longer I would have been. The next bullet would have been in my brain."

Her father carried her to a nearby shop where locals helped to stem the blood before an ambulance took her to hospital.

Carla said: "I am very lucky to still be here. I can still see it all in my head, like a replay. I can even see the IRA gunmen's faces.

"They were all young men, and one of them had very dark hair and light skin.

"It was a Saturday afternoon and they targeted a group of police officers on Newry High Street.

"I had a row with my dad during a shopping trip and ran around the corner right into the volley of bullets. There must have been hundreds.

"My poor mum heard the ambulance sirens and was looking out of our window thinking, 'Oh God, some poor person has been shot.'

"My dad had been shot in a crossfire himself a few years earlier because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. It was like growing up in a warzone."

Despite recovering from her wounds, she said the incident left deep psychological scars.

"Being shot left me shell-shocked. I was frightened to leave the house, because I thought there could be a gun battle around any corner.

"If I heard a backfiring car I would stop dead - even if I was in the middle of the street - and I carried on having nightmares until well into my 20s.

"I'm still afraid of the dark even now and I have to sleep with a night light on.

"After the shooting, I vanished. The only way I could express myself was through singing - that was what I did when things were tough."

She left home at 18 to pursue a career in singing and after studying at Trinity College of Music and the Royal College of Music in London, she moved to Cardiff and studied at the Royal Welsh College of Music.

But she suffered a serious setback when she caught chronic laryngitis and lost her voice at 32. It took her five years to rebuild her singing technique. She met her singing partner, Barbara Kelly when they were touring with a production of Madame Butterfly.

The pair, who chose Will.I.Am of the Black Eyed Peas as their coach, will go head-to-head against Essex girl Leanne Jarvis in the battle round on Saturday 11 May.