Colne men shot with air pistol

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A ROOFER who shot two men in the chest with an air pistol after an altercation over a traffic cone has walked free from court.

Roderick Bowyer (61), who had been working on a cherry picker surrounded by cones, fired the gun at Michael Fairless and Craig Hopkinson, hitting them in the chest, after Mr Fairless knocked a cone over as he parked. Mr Fairless, who was also hit in the arm, had to have a pellet removed at hospital and was left scarred, Burnley Crown Court heard.

The hearing was told Bowyer had had the pistol in his car and claimed he used it for vermin. He was tackled by the victims and in the scuffle, Mr Fairless was said to have had the gun put against his neck and the trigger pulled, although no pellets were discharged. Bowyer was eventually disarmed by the two men after the trouble on July 12th.

The defendant, of Pendlemist View, Colne, admitted assault causing actual bodily harm and two counts of possessing an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence. He was given nine months in jail, suspended for two years, with 12 months supervision and must pay £350 costs.

Mr Adam Watkins (prosecuting) said at about 2 p.m., Mr Fairless, his next door neighour Mr Hopkinson and his stepson were on their way back from a bike ride. Mr Fairless was driving a Renault Scenic, with the bikes on the back, and stopped in Colne at the junction of Bridge Street and Albert Road to go to a newsagent.

He parked next to a cherry picker the defendant was working on, doing some pointing and Bowyer shouted at him. Mr Fairless came out of the shop in less than two minutes, by which time the defendant had armed himself with the air pistol and tucked it into the waistband of his trousers.

Mr Watkins said Mr Fairless returned and was captured on CCTV throwing a cone towards Bowyer from about 15 feet away. The defendant then produced the air gun and pointed it at Mr Fairless, who thought it was a live firearm. Mr Fairless and Mr Hopkinson approached the defendant and Bowyer discharged the weapon, striking both men in the chest. Realising it was an air or pellet gun, the two men continued to go towards Bowyer and Mr Fairless was hit in the arm. The two men tackled the defendant, who was taken to the ground and disarmed.

Mr Fairless got hold of the gun and took it away, chased by the defendant, shouting: “Give me the gun back.” The victim asked the nearby newsagent and a passing motorist to call the police. Bowyer had left the scene but was arrested about 10 minutes later, a few streets away.

Mr Watkins said the pellet was removed from Mr Fairless’s arm and he was given antibiotics. He was told he would be left with a small scar. Bowyer had 23 previous convictions.

Mr Mark Stuart, for Bowyer, said he accepted he should never have got his gun from the car. He had been extremely worried when two younger men approached him and he fired the gun to keep them away.

Although he behaved foolishly and badly, it was an unfortunate incident that started not of the defendant’s own making. Mr Stuart added: “He had not gone looking for Mr Fairless. Mr Fairless had gone looking for him.”