Cornwall

Penwithick man who shot teenager cleared of wounding

Alfred Tipson
Image caption Mr Tipson admitted possessing a firearm with intent to cause fear and will be sentenced next month

A man who shot a boy in the neck with an air rifle has been cleared of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and unlawful wounding.

Alfred Tipson, 70, from Penwithick, Cornwall, told Truro Crown Court that his gun went off accidentally in the village last February.

Tipson, who pleaded guilty to a lesser charge, told jurors teenagers had terrorised villagers for years.

He said he was trying to scare some youths when he shot the boy, 14.

Sharp crack

Residents said fences were broken, dog faeces were pushed through letter-boxes and garden shrubs set on fire.

Tipson admitted possessing a firearm with intent to cause fear and will be sentenced next month.

The court heard a large gang of teenagers was in a residential area of the village near St Austell before the shooting.

Witnesses said they heard shouting and swearing from the youths and then a sharp crack just before the wounded boy fell to ground clutching his neck.

He was taken to hospital and underwent surgery to remove a pellet embedded 3cm deep in his neck.

The injured boy's mother said guns were dangerous and not only had her son been frightened, but he feared he could die.

None of teenagers involved can be named for legal reasons.

Mr Tipson told the court he phoned the police to report rowdy youths damaging a fence, but when they did not respond, he tried to scare them with his air rifle.

Outside court, his granddaughter Terri-Ann Old said while she believed police could have done more to protect residents.

"We firmly believe if the police had responded in an adequate amount of time, this could have been avoided," she said.

Devon and Cornwall Police said it had been working hard to improve the situation in the neighbourhood.

'Proven process'

In a statement, the force said following historic issues of anti-social behaviour on the Penwithick Park estate an action plan had been put in place resulting in a "significant reduction" in incidents.

"Although we sympathise with any resident who has to endure anti-social behaviour, there is a process that has been proven to successfully tackle community issues," the statement said.

"While there is no instant solution, it is wrong for anyone to take matters into their own hands.

"We must work within the law and together with others to achieve lasting solutions to neighbourhood problems."

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