Essex father sentenced for taking a shotgun to confront driver accidentally believed to be following his daughters


- Credit: Archant

A father took a shotgun to confront the driver of a car his daughters thought was following them, a court heard today (Thursday).

Robert Gibson, 48, of Alienor Road, Great Bardfield, received a “hysterical call” from his daughters, aged 21 and 18, on Boxing Day last year saying they were being followed by a car.

The call came during a spate of car-jackings in the area and the 21-year-old daughter had been a victim of crime two years before.

Chelmsford Crown Court was told that Gibson, who had picked up the unloaded gun, manoeuvred his car alongside a Land Rover, which had been following his daughters’ car but it turned out to be underkeeper Byron Chatters, who was doing his rounds at Ashwell Hall.

Sasha Bailey, prosecuting, said the incident occurred at about 6.30pm after Mr Chatters saw what he thought was a “suspicious” vehicle and began to follow it. Another vehicle arrived and opening his window, Gibson, holding the gun, said: “Why you following my girls?”

Miss Bailey added: “It caused him considerable distress and Mr Chatters shouted at the defendant who he was and Gibson withdrew the gun and apologised.”

Mr Chatters got out of his car and they pair shook hands, the court was told.

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A few days later officers arrested Gibson and charged with possessing a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence, which he later admitted in court.

Peter Barlex, mitigating, told the court that Gibson needed an operation on his back which may leave him paralysed. He said: “He’s of positive good character, his guns have now been seized and as newspaper reports show, there had been car-jackings in the area prior to this incident.

“He had an hysterical call from his daughters with screaming and took the unloaded gun and drove to the location, producing the gun which was pointing in the direction of the other vehicle. It was not brandished and after establishing who the other driver was they both got out, shook hands.”

Mr Barlex also provided Judge Anthony Goldstaub with a similar previous successful Court of Appeal case in which a sentence was suspended. He said the circumstances of the case were “exceptional.”

Judge Goldstaub that what had happened was “out of the ordinary course of events, unusual and uncommon.”

He added that parliament didn’t have this sort of situation in mind when they imposed a mandatory sentence for gun crimes.

Judge Goldstaub told Gibson: “It was a moment of foolishness and the whole thing was a frightful misunderstanding, almost farcical in a rural area which is almost old-fashioned compared to other areas of Essex. But we don’t want a gun culture. However, the circumstances are not only unusual but exceptional.”

Gibson, who could have faced five years in prison, was given a two-year sentence suspended for two years. He was also ordered to pay £750 costs.