Towcester balloon woman's gun sentence cut

The Beech House Farm
Image caption The hot air balloon landed on one of the Beech House Farm's fields

A woman jailed for pointing a loaded shotgun at a passenger in a hot air balloon after it landed on her farm had her prison sentence cut by half.

Marie Dring, 50, of Pottersbury, near Towcester, Northamptonshire, was sentenced in May to 18 months.

She had earlier pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence.

Mr Justice Foskett, at the Court of Appeal, said it was "an extremely unusual combination of circumstances".

'Excessive sentence'

The court heard how Dring, of previous "impeccable" good character, loaded a double barrelled shotgun and pointed it at passenger Martin Henley, shouting "get off my land", after the balloon landed on her chicken farm last September.

Mr Henley and his wife had been bought a ride in the balloon as a present by their children.

They were in a group of nine passengers who had left Northampton Racecourse in the balloon.

Dring's barrister David Matthew said the 18-month sentence was "manifestly excessive", adding that the incident had been a "very temporary loss of self-control", and that she had never intended to fire the gun.

Mr Justice Foskett, reducing the sentence to nine months, said each case depended on its circumstances, adding that "in some respects this is a unique case", involving "an extremely unusual combination of circumstances".

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