Grandfather ‘killed himself after shooting girlfriend in head’
A 52-year-old grandfather is believed to have killed himself after shooting his 40-year-old girlfriend twice in the forehead in an Anglian village yesterday.
A 52-year-old grandfather is believed to have killed himself after shooting his 40-year-old girlfriend twice in the forehead in a Norfolk village yesterday.
Detectives are still trying to piece together the events which shocked the close-knit rural community of Feltwell, near Brandon, leaving a man dead, and a woman and baby in hospital.
The gunman - named by neighbours as 52-year-old Mark Osler and described as a “gentle giant” - is believed to have shot his girlfriend on Oak Street before taking his own life in a nearby field.
The victim - named locally as 40-year-old Rachel Puttock - was reportedly walking from the local doctors’ surgery with her daughter and one-month-old grandson Owen, who was dropped to the ground during the attack.
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Both were taken to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, with paramedics last night describing Ms Puttock’s gunshot wounds as “not immediately life-threatening”. The baby was treated for minor head injuries.
Within an hour of the first call at 11.14am, armed police scouring the village were alerted to the discovery of a body in a field off Barrets Lane, behind the scene of the shooting.
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The man, sprawled on his back, was spotted by Diana Smith from her upstairs window only 15 metres away. Her husband Ken, a former soldier, went to investigate.
Mr Smith said: “The initial concern was whether he was alive and, most importantly, whether he was still armed.
“I initially approached him from our side of the gate and I shouted: ‘Can you hear me?’ There was no reaction, so I threw a stone near to him. Still no reaction. I shouted again and it became clear as I got nearer that he didn’t appear to be breathing, but I couldn’t see an injury because of how he was lying.”
A resuscitation effort by ambulance crews failed and the man was pronounced dead at the scene at 12.31pm.
Mr Smith, who served with the Army for more than 30 years, said the gun found with the body was a “very old single-shot pistol”.
He said Mr Osler could have run from the back of the Oak Street property, across rough open ground, and through the garden of a vacant neighbouring house to reach the field. Despite the discovery so close to his own family home, he remained calm about the experience. “Strangely, I feel quite matter-of-fact about it, which is a surprise to myself,” he said. “These things do happen and the fact that it is on your doorstep is not good, but it is a private matter and has not involved us directly.”
Parts of Feltwell remained sealed off last night as detectives and crime scene investigators continued their work behind the police cordon.
Neighbours said the father-of-three affectionately known as “Ossie” had been out of work through illness.
His friend Sharon Goddard, of Munson’s Place, said Mr Osler had been involved in a turbulent “on-off” relationship with Ms Puttock for three years, but spoke of her disbelief at yesterday’s violent events.
“We got a phone call to say he had shot Rachel,” she said. “When you get a phone call like that you feel sick - you think it cannot be right. Later we saw the helicopter and knew it must be true.
“He had been very depressed for a long time. We just feel really sorry for him, because he was a friend. Mark came round my house on Tuesday, and he seemed wound-up and very stressed. All he kept talking about was Rachel. He idolised that woman. It sounds like a big bust-up, that’s all I can think. It is horrible.
“Ossie would do anything for anybody. He had lots of tattoos and looked a bit of a rogue, but he was gentle giant deep down.”
Four land ambulances, three rapid response vehicles and the air ambulance were called to the village.
Norfolk police confirmed that the man’s death was not being treated as suspicious.