Air gun charge man is cleared
A NEWQUAY man accused of shooting his neighbour with an air rifle has walked free from court after being acquitted of a series of charges.
Cole West, aged 31, of Keynvor Close, Newquay, who appeared at Truro Crown Court on Thursday for trial, had lived in the flat below Samuel Hawkins for around three years but the pair had never got on, the court heard.
Philip Lee, for the prosecution, told the jury that on March 17, 2012, an argument erupted which left an air rifle pellet so deeply lodged in Mr Hawkins' buttock that it could not be removed.
"Bad feeling and disagreement had been simmering between them for some time," he said. "They didn't like each other at all."
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When trouble erupted Mr Hawkins was with his two-year-old son and "told the defendant to leave him alone because he was with his little boy", said Mr Lee. "The defendant ignored that."
Mr West told a younger man who was also on the scene to 'get the gun', said Mr Lee.
"Samuel Hawkins walked away with his son. He was aware of being shot in the left buttock … it seems that at first that Samuel Hawkins did not realise he was wounded or the extent to which he was wounded. They had their backs to [Mr West]. They were walking away."
The jury was shown X-ray images of a foreign object lodged inside Mr Hawkins, which was said to be the pellet that had penetrated his left buttock and become lodged in the pelvic area.
Mr Lee said doctors later advised him that it would be sensible to leave the object where it was, since attempting to remove it could cause nerve damage.
Mr West was arrested at his home later that day and was interviewed by police the following day.
He told officers that he owned an air rifle and pellets but denied that he had used it that day.
He denied that Mr Hawkins had been shot at all, and that during the incident it was his neighbour who had been the aggressor.
Mr West was accused of possessing a firearm with intent to endanger life and of wounding Mr Hawkins with intent to do him grievous bodily harm.
He also faced lesser alternative charges of possessing a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence and of unlawful wounding.
On Monday morning, the jury returned verdicts of not guilty on all the charges.