Man who shot burglar in self-defence jailed

A 72-year-old man who shot dead a burglar in self-defence has been jailed for 10 months.

Reuben Gregory, who fired the double-barrelled shotgun trying protect himself and his sister, was sentenced at Reading Crown Court on Monday.

He pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to one count of possessing a shotgun without a certificate, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said.

Thames Valley Police officers at the scene of the shooting (Steve Parsons/PA Wire)
Thames Valley Police officers at the scene of the shooting (Steve Parsons/PA)

He was arrested after an attempted burglary on June 12 at the caravan he shared with his sister Kathleen Gregory in Colnbrook, Slough, a short distance from Heathrow Airport.

They desperately tried to fight the intruders off, Ms Gregory arming herself with a knife, before Gregory fired the shotgun through a hole in the door, the court heard.

Wayne Digby, 48, was hit in the chest and died at the scene, while his alleged accomplice Anthony Hearn was also injured.

Police allegedly found a wooden mallet, cable ties, a bottle of bleach, a funnel and bolt crimpers in a bag lying near Mr Digby's body.

Officers discovered a plastic bottle full of an accelerant and a tennis ball full of flammable liquid and stuffed with a rag inside the caravan, the court was told.

They also recovered a machete with Hearn's DNA on it when they searched a nearby street, it is said.

Gregory went to get help after the shooting and dialled 999 from a mobile phone borrowed from a neighbour, telling police that "a gang" had tried to break in.

He later told officers: "Yes I'm the one who's done it mate, I've been attacked at the caravan."

Armed police were sent to the scene and found Mr Digby's body around 100 metres from the caravan.

Gregory told officers that he bought the shotgun in the 1980s for self-defence after his family was targeted in a previous break-in.

James Cable for the CPS said: "Following a review of the material generated as a result of the police investigation, Mr Gregory's assertion that he was acting in self-defence could not be disproved and that he did nothing more than was necessary to protect himself and his sister from intruders.

"Therefore, the evidential test set out in the Code for Crown Prosecutors was not met, meaning there was not a realistic prospect of conviction for murder or manslaughter.

"Accordingly no further action was taken against Gregory in respect of these offences.

"Gregory was not in legal possession of the shotgun he used, however, which is a very serious matter in itself and was the basis of this prosecution."

In September, Hearn pleaded guilty to the charge of conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary and was sentenced to 10 years in prison at Reading Crown Court.

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