Published: 14:21, 14 October 2006
A GUNMAN who shot at three men on the same day, including two brothers at a gypsy camp, was jailed for life on Friday.
But 29-year-old Gerry Connors will only have to serve a minimum of five years, four months and 13 days before being considered for parole.
Judge Andrew Patience QC heard that Connors shot at Paul Saunders and his brother John at the Orchard Park site in Upchurch on May 2 last year.
Paul Saunders was injured and he required emergency surgery. John was not hit. The third man to be shot was Junior Palmer, said in court to be a drug dealer. Mr Palmer was shot in his hip on a housing estate in Battersea but made a full recovery.
Judge Patience said he had considered the case with "care and anxiety" and had taken Connors’s guilty pleas, a "moving" letter from his wife and both psychiatric and probation reports into account. But he added that the offences were so serious a sentence of life imprisonment was justified.
"You could have killed anyone, if not all three, and it’s a miracle that you did not," he said.
Connors, previously of Haycroft Road, Surbiton, Surrey, but now of no fixed address, fled to Ireland after the Upchurch shooting but was extradited back to the UK within a few weeks.
He was originally charged with the attempted murders of the Saunders brothers. But his pleas of guilty to causing grievous bodily harm with intent on Paul Saunders and attempting to cause grievous bodily harm with intent on John Saunders were accepted by the Crown.
Connors also admitted possession of a firearm - an automatic handgun - with intent to cause fear of violence in relation to the same incident.
Pleas of guilty were also accepted to causing grievous bodily harm with intent to Mr Palmer and two further charges of possessing a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence in relation to that shooting and the brandishing of the gun at relatives a few hours earlier.