Ipswich: Victim of air gun shooting at St Mary-le-Tower tells of horror moment he was hit in the head while up a church tower

IPSWICH: A steeplejack today admitted he is terrified to return to work after sustaining head injuries when a yob shot him with an air rifle.

Dan Appleby and Terry Mellis were carrying our restoration work at St Mary-le-Tower church in Ipswich on Wednesday when they were fired at.

The pair had to scramble up a seven-foot wall and over the tower ledge to hide for safety.

Mr Appleby, 26, who was left with a bloodied head, said: “I’m not going back up the tower at all while we’re on site because I’m terrified it’s going to happen again.

“It’s going to take a while to build up the confidence to get back up there.”

The pair, from Stone Technical, were working on the church’s tower at the time of the attack, along with colleague Lee Brown, 34, who was on the ground at the time of the shooting.

“I had a hammer and chisel in my hand knocking away when we stopped for a break,” Mr Appleby said. “I didn’t hear the pellet whizz past like Terry did but the next thing I knew I had blood pouring out of my head.”

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Mr Mellis, 29, called police while at the top of the tower and by the time the pair came down through the church, emergency services were on scene.

Paramedics tended to Mr Appleby before taking him to Ipswich Hospital for further treatment.

Doctors had to removed the pellet, believed to be a 177 air rifle pellet, which was lodged 4cm into the back of his head. Although he was wearing a helmet, the pellet managed to hit his head from underneath.

Mr Appleby said: “I got a banging headache and it was throbbing as soon as it happened but the doctor said it’ll be like that for a while.

“It could definitely have killed me.”

Mr Appleby will have the stitches removed in a week to ensure the wound has healed.

The workmen, from County Durham, are due to return home later today.

Anyone who saw anything suspicious around the church, or anyone with information about any people with air rifles in the town centre yesterday afternoon should call Suffolk police on 101.

n Did you see what happened? Call the newsdesk on 01473 324790 or e-mail starnews@archant.co.uk

POLICE are re-appealing for witnesses after the air rifle drama.

Officers including a dog handler, armed response units and the force helicopter carried out a thorough search of the area in Tower Street but were unable to find the weapon or offender.

Detective Inspector Sarah Shrubshall, from Ipswich CID, said: “Although we need to point out that we are currently treating this as an isolated incident, we are stepping up foot patrols in the area. In addition, we will be carrying out various enquiries including searching through CCTV footage in an attempt to locate the offender.

“It’s important to point out that when we locate the perpetrator we will deal with them robustly. This was an extremely irresponsible and reckless act that could have had far more serious consequences.”

One line of inquiry being pursued is that the gunman was shooting from a window or rooftop.