Shooting victim from Stinchcombe 'saved by iPhone'

A SHOOTING victim has told how his iPhone saved him from being killed by the blast of a faulty pump action shotgun at a clay pigeon shooting event.

Retired factory health and safety officer Graham Wheeler, 69, of Stinchcombe, told a judge that he had the phone in his shirt chest pocket and it protected the vital area of his heart.

But even though the phone saved his life, 140 pellets were lodged in his left arm and chest - and they are still there.

Doctors have decided it is safer to leave them for the rest of his life than to try to remove them all, he said.

"I'm fine now," he told Judge Jamie Tabor QC at Gloucester Crown Court.

"Your iPhone saved your bacon?" asked the judge.

"Yes, it absorbed a lot of the pellets and left a nice little black patch on my chest," replied Mr Wheeler. "The phone was completely destroyed. I have almost fully recovered. I still get some pain but not too bad."

Mr Wheeler was one of three people wounded by the shotgun going off in the hands of BMW garage boss David Richards, 44, at the pro-shoot event last year.

Richards, of May Hill, Longhope, was originally charged with wounding Mr Wheeler with intent to cause him grievous bodily harm as well as unlawfully wounding two other people.

But at court the prosecution accepted Richards' claim that he had no intent to harm anyone and that the cheap, poorly made, shotgun he was using was faulty and he had not pulled the trigger to make it fire.

He pleaded guilty to unlawfully wounding Mr Wheeler, 56-year-old Trudi Chinn, and Paul Murray, 40, at the clay pigeon shoot in Longhope on November 27 last year.

The judge also asked Mrs Chinn if she had also fully recovered and she made a 'so-so' gesture.

Mr Murray was injured in the arm, where nine pellets lodged, but he has also recovered well.

Outside court later Richards approached Mr Wheeler and Mrs Chinn to apologise and he shook hands with both of them.

The judge bailed Richards for a pre-sentence report saying he wanted to know 'a great deal more about him'. He granted him bail until December 21 and indicated he would not be passing a custodial sentence.

Judge Tabor said the seriousness of the offences was that Richards had not observed the golden rule of shooting - that you never point a gun at anyone, even by accident.

"One is brought up with very strong safety rules from the start," he said.

"The gun is either pointed at the ground or the target - and nowhere else."

Judge Tabor added: "It was a terrifying incident. It was an accident which was avoidable. If someone had been killed he would have been charged with manslaughter."

Outside court Mr Wheeler said he accepted that it had been a 'terrible reckless act' by Richards and he did not want to see him locked up for it.

"They have left 140 pellets in me because they say that's safer than to remove them. I suppose it's a bit like the soldiers who live the rest of their lives with shrapnel in them.

"But the fact I have recovered and that he is not going to jail doesn't alter the fact that he should never have pointed the gun in the direction he did."

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