Airgun yob avoids immediate custody

AN airgun yob who took part in a shooting spree which left 40 cars damaged and a man injured has avoided an immediate prison term.

AN airgun yob who took part in a shooting spree which left 40 cars damaged and a man injured has avoided an immediate prison term.

Luke Berry, 20, of Edwin Avenue, Woodbridge, was one of four youngsters who targeted and smashed vehicle windscreens in Ipswich, Felixstowe, Stowmarket, Woodbridge and surrounding villages on October 14, 2007.

A 21-year-old man was also injured when he was struck in the face by a pellet in Landseer Road, Ipswich.

Ryan Jefferies, 21, and Megan Lawrence, 18, were sent to a young offenders institute for eight months after being sentenced in May while a 16-year-old who cannot be, named for legal reasons, was handed a referral order.

Ipswich Crown court heard that the group had bought two BB pistols that looked like “realistic” guns.

They then drove around various parts of the county, taking shots at cars causing around £3,358 in damage, as well as firing at a pedestrian in Landseer Road.

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Russell Butcher, mitigating, said: “He realises the effect this would have had on the victims. He has said himself that all logic went out the window. He is a follower and appears susceptible to pressure from his peers.

“It suddenly became apparent that people can get hurt by their actions and it dawned on him he shouldn't take any further part, of course by that stage it was too late.”

Mr Butcher said Berry, who pleaded guilty to possessing an imitation firearm, assault by battery and 13 counts of criminal damage, had saved around £4,000 should he be required to pay compensation.

He added that his client suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder which would make custody additionally difficult.

Judge David Goodin said: “It is impossible for most people to understand what can possibly motivate people to behave in that quite extraordinary way.

“I will distinguish between you and the other defendants because of your personal disadvantages and you personal qualities as well as your determination to save compensation and keep working.”

Berry was sentenced to a total of six months in a young offenders' institute, suspended for 12 months.

He was told top complete 150 hours of unpaid work, handed a supervision order and given a six month curfew between 8pm and 6am.

He was also ordered to pay £1,679 in compensation.

Were you affected by the rampage? What do you think of the sentence? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail

POLICE began receiving reports of damage to houses and cars at 9.10pm on October 14 when a window of a house in Church Street, Orford, was smashed by pellets thought to have been fired by an airgun.

Shortly before 10pm, residents reported shots being fired at two cars in Quay Street in the village, shattering the windows.

A short time later the windows of at least ten cars were smashed by an airgun in Orford Road, Cavendish Road, Beach Road West and Tacon Road, Felixstowe.

At around 11pm, five vehicles in Theberton Road, Ipswich, had their windows damaged and 40 minutes later a 21-year-old was struck in the face by a pellet, thought to have been shot from an airgun, while he was outside the Co-op store in Clapgate Lane.

Following the incident, residents were left with a huge cleanup operation and an insurance headache.

A police spokesman said: “Dozens of vehicles were damaged at locations across the Woodbridge, Felixstowe, Stowmarket and Ipswich areas on Sunday, October 14 - and a 21- year-old man was struck on the side of the head as he walked in Clapgate Lane in Ipswich.”