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Farmer fined 5,000 for shooting at off-duty policeman who strayed onto his land while out jogging
17:28 GMT, 17 December 2012
A 76-year-old old farmer has been ordered to pay more than 5,000 after shooting at an off-duty police officer who had strayed onto his land while jogging.
PC David Sharpe, 38, described how Fred Kirk faced him at gunpoint after the pensioner fired his .22 rifle in his direction, accusing him of trespassing on a private road near his farm in /12/17/article-2249444-168E31C3000005DC-592_634x316.jpg” width=”634″ height=”316″ alt=”PC Sharpe thought the lane was open to the public after looking on Google Maps during his 14-mile run” class=”blkBorder” />
PC Sharpe thought the lane was open to the public after looking on Google Maps during his 14-mile run
Following the incident on June 26 this year, Lincolnshire Police revoked Mr Kirk's firearm and shotgun licences, which he had held for over 40 years.
Mr Kirk appealed the decision. A hearing at Lincoln Crown Court was told PC Sharpe strayed on to the track, which he thought was open to the public after looking on Google Maps, during a 14-mile run.
PC Sharpe described how Mr Kirk tried to run him off the road in his car before firing a shot towards him after he ran past the pensioner wearing his headphones and running kit.
'I heard a real loud crack behind me,' PC Sharpe said. 'I knew it was a gun shot because of my experience with guns. Gun shots are quite distinctive, I felt the sound wave as well as heard it. I jumped out of my skin.'
PC Sharpe told the court he turned around and saw Mr Kirk standing at his car, pointing the gun towards him. 'I thought he was going to shoot me,' PC Sharpe added. 'He kept looking down the barrel of the gun and re-aiming at me.'
The officer said he put his arms up in the 'surrender position' and asked the farmer to put his gun down. After Mr Kirk lowered his weapon to a three-quarters position, PC Sharpe decided his only option was to disarm the pensioner.
At the hearing at Lincoln Crown Court, pictured, Mr Kirk denied firing his weapon at PC Sharpe and claimed to be already out of his car shooting at crows when the officer ran onto his land
'I was told it was my word against
his, and in a criminal case it could not be proved beyond reasonable
doubt. The Crown Prosecution Service discontinued it.'
court heard PC Sharpe was so frightened by the incident that he
required counselling for post-traumatic stress despite being described
as a 'robust officer.'
PC Sharpe said: 'Last year I was sent to London for the riots. I was on the bridge during the football-related violent disorder in Boston during 2004. I have faced edged weapons, entered freezing water to save people, faced pit bulls.'
Giving evidence, Mr Kirk denied firing his weapon at PC Sharpe and claimed to be already out of his car shooting at crows to keep them off his pea fields when the officer ran onto his land.
Mr Kirk said the officer refused to stop after he told him he was trespassing, and once PC Sharpe was over 30 or 40 yards away he fired his one remaining shot at a pigeon at a complete right angle to PC Sharpe.
PC Sharpe, who served in the London riots, pictured, was so frightened by the incident with the farmer that he required counselling for post-traumatic stress
But rejecting the firearm and shotgun appeal, Judge Micheal Heath, sitting with a magistrate, said they were sure PC Sharpe had given an 'honest, truthful and accurate account'.
Judge Heath told Mr Kirk: 'We are satisfied the appellant in this case was angry. He had found somebody who he thought was trespassing. It wasn't the first time he had found trespassers on his land.
'We are satisfied as to be sure a rifle was fired within 50 metres of the officer,' Judge Heath added. 'What then happened was unforgivable.
'He pointed that weapon at the officer. It was perfectly understandable that the officer felt that he was about to be killed.'
The appeal was rejected and Mr Kirk was ordered to pay the prosecution costs of 5,216.