Doncaster shotgun victim refused to give evidence

Convicted - Henry Gaskin.
Convicted - Henry Gaskin.

A young man who survived a shotgun blast to his abdomen on a Doncaster gypsy site has refused to give evidence against the man who fired the gun.

The wound was inflicted by an unusual weapon - a walking stick capable of firing .410 bore shotgun cartridges - which are usually regarded as collectors’ pieces.

Prosecutors have been forced to offer no evidence on a charge of attempted murder - but Henry Gaskin is today starting a five-and-a-half year jail sentence after admitting a lesser offence.

The 21-year-old victim, David Stewart, spent weeks in hospital and has not returned to live on the Lands End travellers’ site at Thorne after telling police he would not co-operate with their inquiry.

The motive for the shooting has never been revealed.

Gaskin, aged 46, who lives on the same site, thanked the judge at Sheffield Crown Court for the sentence when he pleaded guilty to a charge of possessing a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence.

His daughter, Sammy Josephine Gaskin, aged 22, and son, Henry Gaskin, 18, of the same address, had also been charged with attempted murder but the Crown offered no evidence against them and they were freed.

Police were sent to the site at 11.50pm on May 19 when an ambulance was called to take Mr Stewart to hospital with a shotgun wound to the abdomen, said David Hall, prosecuting.

Doctors operated and removed 16 shotgun pellets from around his heart, in his kidney, liver and lungs, and there were tears to his stomach and bowel.

A police search recovered the walking stick gun, which had been taken apart, and four cartridges, one of which had been fired.

Gaskin had previous convictions for assault but none for firearms offences.

Defence counsel Philip Astbury said Gaskin knew he would be going to jail and was ‘fearful of repercussions’.

“This was an act very much out of character, an aberration. It happened in the heat of the moment and he received a substantial blow to the head, whether that affected his judgement is not known.

“It was not a calculated or premeditated incident. It was a foolish thing to do.

“Fortunately Mr Stewart has made a full recovery, and made a decision not to co-operate with the authorities.”

After the case Det Insp Steve Whittaker, of Doncaster CID, said: “This was a targeted attack on an individual and we have had difficulties getting witnesses to attend court. As a result we have accepted a plea relating to the firearm.

“It is extremely disappointing to us but we will still continue to pursue firearms offences wherever they are committed.

“We won’t tolerate the use of illegal firearms. It is not acceptable for any community to take the law into their own hands. This person is lucky to be alive.”