Grandfather shot his girlfriend in broad daylight

A grandfather who shot his girlfriend in front of her daughter and baby grandson had a history of domestic violence and previously held a gun licence.

The details emerged last night as investigators tried to make sense of the events which shattered the rural calm in the village of Feltwell, near Brandon, on Monday.

Unemployed lorry driver Mark Osler, 51, is believed to have shot 40-year-old Rachel Puttock in the face outside his home on Oak Street before taking his own life in a nearby field.

The attack happened in broad daylight as Ms Puttock was walking home from a doctor’s surgery with her daughter Lesley, and pushing one-month-old grandson Owen in a pram.

Despite a shotgun wound to the forehead, Ms Puttock’s condition was described as stable yesterday after a successful operation in Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge. Baby Owen was recovering with his family after suffering minor injuries while falling from his pram.

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Meanwhile a post-mortem examination was carried out on Mr Osler, whose body was found alongside a .22 single-shot pistol.

Norfolk police said Mr Osler had previously been considered eligible for a firearms licence but had voluntarily surrendered it - although they were unable to confirm when, or why.

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Det Insp Stuart Chapman said it was also too early to speculate on the motive for the attack.

“We understand Mr Osler used to hold a shotgun licence but voluntarily surrendered it,” he said. “We don’t know when. This is one of the enquiries we are piecing together.

“At this time it is the early stages of the investigation and there is a lot of research we need to carry out to understand this incident fully.”

Mr Osler, known as Ossie, was a divorced father-of-three described by friends as a tattooed “gentle giant” who was involved in a turbulent “on-off” relationship with Ms Puttock for the last three years.

In January 2009 he was given a suspended nine-month prison sentence at Norwich Crown Court after a series of assaults on his ex-wife Paula, who he separated from in 2006.

Stringent laws governing the issue of firearms certificates include considerations of all criminal offences, but police were unable to confirm last night whether Mr Osler surrendered his licence as a result of his conviction.

Mr Osler’s home, and the Barrets Lane paddock where he died, remained sealed off last night as officers tried to reassure a stunned community which had been subjected to two shootings, and an armed police search lasting almost an hour.

Det Insp Chapman said: “This is a quiet, safe area. People are obviously shocked by what has happened in their village and we are providing reassurance that this is an isolated incident.”

Senior detectives have appealed for the public’s help bring in vital clues which could explain the gunman’s violent actions.

Det Chief Insp Neil Firm said: “People sometimes think they have only a small piece of information but one small piece can help us complete the jigsaw.”

Anyone with information should contact Norfolk police on 0845 456 4567 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

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