Devon

Sentence rise for men who shot Plymouth's Colin Pester

Gary Ball and Mark Gagen
Image caption Lord Justice Pitchford said it was a "plain and obvious case of indeterminate sentence"

Two men jailed for shooting a man in Plymouth have had their sentences increased by the Court of Appeal.

Gary Ball, 45, of Plymouth and Mark Gagen, 43, were jailed in October for injuring Colin Pester, 63, in 2008.

A city court jailed Ball for 18 years and Gagen for 16. The Court of Appeal gave them both indeterminate sentences.

They were reviewed after Attorney General, Dominic Grieve complained that sentences by Judge Francis Gilbert QC, in October, were "unduly lenient".

Appeal judges said both men should serve indeterminate sentences for the protection of the public, and both must stay in jail for at least 12 years.

Mr Pester was seriously hurt when he was shot in the stomach in at his home in Lancaster Gardens, Whitleigh, in Plymouth on 30 April 2008.

'They were fortunate'

The Court of Appeal, in London, heard that Surgeon Commander Tony Lambert had saved Mr Pester's life.

Solicitor General Edward Garnier QC, for the Attorney General, said: "Had he died - and the only reason he didn't was that the surgeon commander had just come back from Iraq and he was used to dealing with gunshot wounds - these men would have received life sentences with very long minimum terms.

Image caption Colin Pester said he was knocked backwards by a shot to his stomach

"They were fortunate. It seems that the luck in choosing this particular surgeon for this operation has saved these men from very long minimum terms."

Lord Justice Pitchford, Mrs Justice Sharp and Mr Justice Popplewell were told that both men had lengthy criminal records and Gagen was on the run from prison - after being convicted of drugs offence two years earlier - at the time of the shooting.

"This is a plain and obvious case of indeterminate sentence," Lord Justice Pitchford said.

The court was told that the men escaped with jewellery worth about £20,000 from Mr Pester's home.

Ball had denied robbery, possessing a firearm and grievous bodily harm but was found guilty, and Gagen, who had lived in Leicester, pleaded guilty.

In October, Plymouth Crown Court heard that he was shot in front of his seven-year-old son in what Judge Gilbert said was a "violent, personal robbery".

At the time, Judge Gilbert said Ball would serve at least nine years, and Gagen at least eight.

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