Bowling alley gun yob jailed

A MAN who caused a bowling alley to be evacuated after he was seen brandishing a gun is today locked up for 16 months.

Jane Hunt

A MAN who caused a bowling alley to be evacuated after he was seen brandishing a gun is today locked up for 16 months.

Sheldon Finch, 19, produced a BB gun loaded with a ball-bearing and pointed it in the face of Ashley Smith outside Solar Bowl in Sproughton Road during an argument, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

And today Mr Smith said the sentence was not long enough.

He said: “There were children and families there at the time. It looked like a handgun.

“It shocked me quite a bit. I am now a lot more aware of how things can go. From something that could go from an argument to having a gun pointed in your face.

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“He should have got more. He is not going to learn from this.”

Godfried Duah, prosecuting, said during the drama on September 6, Finch had gone into the bowling alley and the premises were evacuated after the firearm incident was reported to the police. Officers found the BB gun hidden under a cabinet and Finch was later arrested.

Finch, of Woodbridge Road, Ipswich admitted possessing a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence and was sentenced to 16 months detention in a young offenders' institution.

Mr Duah told the court that as a result of Solar Bowl being evacuated customers had to be refunded which had resulted in a loss of �750.

Outlining the background to the offence Mr Duah said Finch had been in a relationship with a girl which had ended and she had started going out with a boy called Shaun Smith.

Mr Smith had received some telephone calls he believed to be from Finch and had approached him outside Solar Bowl. Finch had walked off but as he did so he had bumped into Mr Smith's friend Ashley Smith.

Charles Myatt, for Finch, said he had bought the gun from a friend a year earlier and had used it legally in his garden for shooting at cans but had taken the BB gun to Solar Bowl to see friends following an earlier incident involving another group of youths.

Mr Myatt: “It was a foolish mistake.”

He said Finch hadn't deliberately loaded the gun and had forgotten there was a ball-bearing in it.”

- Do you think the sentence is long enough? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email

ASHLEY Smith was in the group of youths that Finch confronted and today told of his fear after having the BB gun brandished in his face.

He said the 16-month sentence was disgusting and that Finch should have got the five years that is usually meted out to people carrying a handgun.

He said: "Me and some friends went bowling. We turned up and the boy was standing there.

“One of us had a disagreement with a boy outside. He stood talking to my friend Shaun and he kept saying 'come round the corner and we will talk about'. I told Shaun he would be mad if he did.”

The group walked away and went inside, but Finch followed.

Mr Smith said: "We walked in to Solar Bowl and he walked in as well. Then he pointed the gun at my face. He was saying he was going to go outside and shoot me.

“I have been brought up with guns and it looked real. I was pretty scared. Why would someone take a gun to the bowling alley?”

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