Farmer pointed gun at trespassing police officer

News from the Boston Standard, Lincolnshire:, on Twitter @standardboston
News from the Boston Standard, Lincolnshire:, on Twitter @standardboston

A Brotherftoft farmer has been ordered to pay over £5,000 in costs after a court found he fired a shot near an off-duty police officer who strayed on to his land while jogging.

Pc David Sharpe, 38, described how he was faced at gunpoint by Fred Kirk after the pensioner fired his .22 rifle in his direction after accusing him of trespassing on a private road near his farm in Bye Lane.

The highly-commended officer, who served in the London riots, was visibly moved as he admitted thinking he was going to be ‘blown away’

by the gun-carrying farmer.

Following the incident on June 26 this year, Lincolnshire Police revoked Mr Kirk’s firearm and shotgun licences, both of which he had held for more than 40 years.

Mr Kirk appealed the decision.

A hearing at Lincoln Crown Court on Friday was told Pc Sharpe strayed on to the track, which he thought was open to the public after looking on Google maps, during a 14-mile run.

Giving evidence, Pc Sharpe described how Mr Kirk tried to run him off the road in his car before firing a shot towards him after he ran past the pensioner wearing his headphones and running kit.

“I heard a real loud crack behind me,” PC Sharpe said. “I knew it was a gun shot because of my experience with guns. Gun shots are quite distinctive, I felt the sound wave as well as heard it. I jumped out of my skin.”

Pc Sharpe told the court he turned around and saw Mr Kirk stood outside of his car pointing the gun towards him. “I thought he was going to shoot me,” he added. “He kept looking down the barrel of the gun and re-aiming at me.”

The officer said he put his arms up in the ‘surrender position’ and asked the farmer to put his gun down. After Mr Kirk lowered his weapon to a three-quarters position Pc Sharpe said he decided his only option was to disarm the pensioner.

“I thought if I’m going past him he might put one in the back of my head so when I got near him I just took the gun off him.”

Pc Sharpe said the farmer refused to believe he was a police officer and, fearing he might have another gun in his car, he ran off towards the home of a local doctor.

The doctor described Pc Sharpe as looking ‘pale and trembling’ when he arrived at his home.

When police arrived at the scene and recovered the gun from the policeman an empty case was found inside. The court was told Mr Kirk was arrested for attempted murder but no charges were brought against him.

“Whether or not he fired over my shoulder to scare me or at me we shall never know,” Pc Sharpe told the court:

“I was told it was my word against his and in a criminal case it could not be proved beyond reasonable doubt. The Crown Prosecution Service discontinued it.”

The court was told Pc Sharpe was so frightened by the incident that he required counselling for post traumatic stress, despite being described as a ‘robust officer.’

Pc Sharpe added: “Last year I was sent to London for the riots, I was on the bridge during the football related violent disorder in Boston during 2004, I have faced edged weapons, entered freezing water to save people, faced pit bulls.”

Giving evidence, Mr Kirk denied firing his weapon at Pc Sharpe and claimed to be already out of his car shooting at crows to keep them off his pea fields when the officer ran on to his land.

Mr Kirk said the officer refused to stop after he told him he was trespassing, and once the officer was over 30 or 40 yards away he fired his one remaining shot at a pigeon at a complete right angle to Pc Sharpe.

But rejecting the firearm and shotgun appeal, Judge Micheal Heath, sitting with a magistrate, said they were sure Pc Sharpe had given an ‘honest, truthful and accurate account.’

Judge Heath told Mr Kirk: “We are satisfied the appellant in this case was angry. He had found somebody who he thought was trespassing, it wasn’t the first time he had found trespassers on his land, he was very concerned about trespassers.

“We are satisfied as to be sure a rifle was fired within 50 metres of the officer,” Judge Heath added. “What then happened was unforgivable.

He pointed that weapon at the officer.

“It was perfectly understandable that the officer felt that he was about to be killed.”

The appeal was rejected and Mr Kirk was ordered to pay the prosecution costs of £5,216.