A WORKER at a plumbers’ merchant was shot three times by a customer after what began as horseplay took a violent twist, a court heard on Tuesday.
Francis Wilson, 32, pleaded guilty to assault on Simon Perrin, possession of an offensive weapon and possession of an imitation firearm when he appeared before Harrogate magistrates.
Prosecutor Katie Varlow said self-employed Wilson had bought items last month from Mr Perrin at Plumbase, in Waterloo Street, Harrogate.
He was a regular customer there.
There had been some horseplay during the transaction and Wilson had left some of his purchases on the counter.
Mrs Varlow said Mr Perrin decided to hide them, to Wilson’s annoyance. He vowed to return with his BB gun and shoot Mr Perrin - who did not view the threat seriously.
Wilson had gone back the following day but Mr Perrin had been out. But he called again on June 1 and shot Mr Perrin three times to his leg which was left swollen and bruised.
In mitigation Steven Culleton said Wilson, of Baden Street, Harrogate, and staff at Plumbase had engaged in banter and horseplay before Mr Perrin thought it would be funny to hide some of Wilson’s purchases.
Wilson decided that if he was going to be the victim of stupidity he could behave in the same way.
‘‘And he did it in spades,’’ said Mr Culleton. ‘‘He came back with his BB gun.’’
It was a toy which could be found in the bedroom of many a child and had the effect of ‘‘stinging the back of the legs if people fire them at each other,” he said.
Mr Culleton said Wilson had not acted out of malice or revenge.
He had indulged in a poor joke which had gone too far and which had left him racked with remorse.
He had made everybody – including his clients – aware of how stupid he had been.
On the day of the shooting he had simply not been thinking.
Court chairman Marion Simon told Wilson any form of firearm in a public place could not be condoned in any way, shape or form.
‘‘It was a planned use of a firearm,” she said.
“You went back twice and used it in a public warehouse.’’
Wilson was ordered to do 100 hours of unpaid work and pay costs of £85 and compensation of £100.