Trio jailed as travellers' site shooting described as 'like a movie scene'
- Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown
A shooting at a Suffolk travellers’ site in which three teenagers were injured during a feud between two families has been described as being like a scene from “a Wild West movie”.
Two vehicles containing around eight men drove up to the site in Bridge End Road, off Elms Road in Red Lodge, during the afternoon of Easter Sunday with doors open and two guns pointing out of open windows, Ipswich Crown Court heard.
Shots were fired as one of the men in the cars shouted ‘"This is my yard now" and threatened to come back and kill the residents if they didn’t leave.
Thousands of pounds of damage was caused to caravans and vehicles at the site by axes and machetes during the incident.
Hugh Vass, prosecuting, said the scene was “more like something out of a Wild West movie or a scene from a Sam Peckinpah film than rural Suffolk.”
The court heard that an 18-year old youth suffered six pellet wounds to the face, neck, arms and torso and a 16-year old, who described “running for his life” and hiding in a ditch during the incident, suffered a leg injury and a pellet wound above his lip.
A pregnant teenage girl was also hurt as a result of falling while attempting to run away to safety after being threatened by a man who was armed with a knife and said he was going to kill her.
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The court heard that when the violence started a woman who had been organising an Easter egg hunt for her four grandchildren had pulled her pregnant daughter-in law into her trailer and had been frightened for the safety of her family.
Following the incident a number of arrests were made near another travellers' site outside the village of Cottenham, in Cambridgeshire.
Mr Vass said that following the arrest of the defendants, victims of the incident claimed they had been threatened by men in balaclavas who told them they would be shot if they didn’t withdraw their statements to police.
He said there didn’t appear to have been any bad blood between the two families before the incident and apart from someone saying “This is my yard now” there was no other reason for what happened.
Before the court were Bernard Mongan, 35, of Setchell Drove, Cottenham; David Mongan, 26, also of Setchell Drove, Cottenham; and Jim Mongan, 31, of Corbins Lane, South Harrow.
They all admitted violent disorder on April 4 on the basis that they knew one of their group was carrying a gun but didn’t expect it be used.
They were each jailed for 24 months and made the subject of restraining orders banning them from contacting the victims or going near their Red Lodge site for seven years.
The court heard that a fourth man - James Mongan, 31, who has links to the Cottenham area -was still wanted in connection with the incident while a fifth man - Thomas Mongan, 23, of Gregory Road, Southall - was initially charged in connection with the incident but the prosecution had offered no evidence against him.
In a statement read to the court a member of the family targeted in the incident said: “Nothing like this has ever happened to my family and it has turned our lives upside down.
“We live in constant fear and don’t know when this will stop.”
Sentencing the men Judge Martyn Levett said a witness had described the incident as “being like footage from a film”.
He said around eight men had got out of the cars, shouting and spreading around the yard with one loading a shotgun which he fired around four times.
“Mercifully, no one was seriously injured, but there were children present,” said the judge.
“Weapons, like firearms and knives, carried out of some misguided sense that it is for persuasion, means the person having it runs a risk of using it with the devastating result that other offences of the greatest seriousness follow.
“Anyone who is tempted to use weapons or firearms to commit crimes do so at the risk of the court imposing lengthy sentences, and it is in this way that it demonstrates how the courts can deter and help reduce, so far as possible the use of weapons of any type in violent acts of retribution,” said the judge.
Donal Lawlor, for Jim Mongan, said the defendants had travelled from a travellers site five miles away and had driven straight back after spending five to minutes at the Red Lodge site.
He said his client had “foolishly” got involved in what happened.
Brent Martin, for Bernard Mongan, said his client had no previous convictions for violence and regretted his involvement in the incident.
James Scobie, for David Mongan, said his client hadn’t anticipated a firearm being discharged during the incident.