Coddenham: Man fired unloaded air rifle near group of young tobogganers

Ipswich Crown Court Ipswich Crown Court

Friday, January 3, 2014
6:00 AM

A group of young people who decided to go tobogganing after dark feared they were being shot at when a man fired an unloaded air rifle into the air from his porch, a court has heard.

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One member of the group later told police that as the gun was fired she heard a noise and began to run away because she feared for her and her friends’ safety, Ipswich Crown Court was told.

Before the court was 39-year-old Simon West, of Forge House, Coddenham, who admitted possessing a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence on January 20 last year.

Sentencing him to a 10-month jail term, suspended for two years, Judge John Holt told West the group had lawfully been sledging near his home but he had taken exception to what they were doing.

He banned West from possessing an air rifle for 10 years and ordered him to pay £750 costs. He also placed him under supervision for 12 months and ordered him to attend an alcohol-specified activity programme.

Andrew Thompson, prosecuting, said the incident happened at around 9pm when a group of young people decided to take advantage of the snow to go sledging on a slight incline near West’s home in Coddenham.

He said they were disturbed by West coming out of his home holding an air rifle and pointing it in their direction,

“It was unloaded although the four witnesses formed the view they were being fired at,” said Mr Thompson.

“They were extremely frightened.”

As the group ran off they heard West say: “Come back if you want some more”.

The matter was reported to the police and when West was initially questioned about the incident he claimed that snowballs had been thrown at his house and he had been worried about windows being broken.

He also claimed that when he shouted at members of the group they had been abusive.

However, Mr Thompson said the prosecution did not accept there was any such behaviour by the group.

Ian James, for West, said his client had no previous convictions and understood the seriousness of what he had done.

He said West had worked as an engineer but had been injured in a motoring accident and had since had five operations and had been left with limited mobility.

“He spends a lot of time at home and he was previously quite active,” Mr James added.

He said West had suffered from depression and had taken to drinking more than was good for him.

“He has learned his lesson,” Mr James said.

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