A YOB who cruised around the town in a car with pals shooting people at random with a paintball gun has been jailed for a year.
Aaron White, 20, and his friends set out in his Renault Clio on the night of April 2 last year armed with his paintball gun and a police-issue ASP baton and shot three people – including one man who was struck in the face.
The victim Tony Blackford, who has moderate learning difficulties, suffered problems with his vision after a pellet hit him in the eye, several more hit him in the arms and body while he was cycling home from work at 12.30am.
Speaking after the hearing at Swindon Crown Court, his father Peter Blackford said: “I’m delighted with the sentence and that he is no longer on the streets. this was pre-planned, and they wanted to cause people harm.”
Prosecutor Colin Meeke told the court the gang had driven around Swindon looking for victims and after shooting Mr Blackford and leaving him lying in the street they then shot two more men, one of whom tried to pursue them in a van and chased them as far as Ashton Keynes before losing them.
During the chase, one of the boys leaned out of the window and peppered the victim’s car with paintballs.
Later White’s car nearly hit a pedestrian who stepped back just in time.
When White was arrested officers found the ASP extendable nightstick tucked into his jeans, which he tried to claim he had found lying around and was set to hand to police.
Rob Ross, defending, said his client, who had not fired at all the victims, had fallen in with a bad crowd at the time but had since obtained a job as an apprentice.
He said: “He is the one carrying the can but not the person who shot at that man who was hit in the face.
“He has realised his behaviour in early 2011 and 2012 was frankly delinquent and he has seen he error of his ways. He has tried to get himself on the right track.”
White, of Westmorland Road, in the town centre, earlier admitted three counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm and one count of possession of an offensive weapon and was sentenced to 12 months concurrently for each ABH charge and three months concurrently for the latter.
In jailing him, judge Douglas Field said: “The circumstances are extremely serious and concerning. It was your car, your paintball gun, your friends in the car and your ASP tucked into your waistband.
“Then you go driving around the streets shooting people who just take your fancy. Mr Blackford was a vulnerable young man who was shot in the face and corrosive paint goes into his eye.
Speaking after the case, Crime Investigator Louise Kennelly from the Local Crime Team based at Gablecross said: "This incident was an unprovoked attack on three victims going about their business on a late evening in April 2012.
"One victim, with moderate learning difficulties, was cycling home after work in the dark when he was suddenly shot in the face with a paint ball gun from a passing vehicle.
"This was extremely frightening for the victim as his vision was impaired at the time and left him calling out for help. The incident was very distressing for the victim's family and it has taken them an long time for them to recover from the ordeal.
"Despite the effects that this has had on the victim and his family they have managed to overcome their fears to ensure that the victim returned to work and regained some normality to his life again.
"This has been a detailed police investigation which has included forensic and telephony evidence to ensure that the offender was brought to justice.
"Despite this positive result, we believe that there are still outstanding offenders involved in this incident and urge the public with any information to come forward.
"Any information will be treated in the strictest confidence."
Anyone with information should contact the police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.