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Inquest told of gun threat from Feltwell man

PUBLISHED: 09:19 29 June 2011

Mark Osler.

For: David Powles

Mark Osler. For: David Powles

Police had been warned about a gunman two days before he shot a woman while she pushed her baby grandson in a pram before turning the gun on himself, it was claimed.

Mark Osler, 52, shot Rachel Puttock with a pistol as she walked near her home in Feltwell with her daughter and month-old grandson.

Ms Puttock survived the attack last July but Mr Osler then turned the gun on himself.

At an inquest into his death at King’s Lynn Magistrates’ Court on Monday, Osler’s ex-wife, Paula Peckham, said she had contacted police two days earlier.

Addressing the inquest, Ms Peckham asked Detective Sergeant Andy Ninham why officers had not followed up her earlier warning.

She said: “I reported that he had a gun and told the police what he was going to do.

“He was mentally ill and he said that if she came to his door he would shoot her.

“Nobody followed up on my complaint.

“If they had, this would not have happened.”

DS Ninham told the inquest that officers had investigated Ms Peckham’s claims. They were unable to identify the officer she spoke to from the information she had given.

“A great deal of work was done to try to establish which officer was in the area at the time to see who you could have told about it,” he said. “As far as I’m aware we have been unable to identify which officer you were talking about.”

Speaking after the inquest, a police spokesperson said the shooting was referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) in July last year. The IPCC said it was content the investigation could be handled locally.

She added: “Norfolk Constabulary is doubtful that the course of events happened in the way it has been described. We carried out a thorough investigation around the incident but at no time have found any corroborative evidence.”

The inquest heard how on the day of Osler’s death, Ms Puttock had walked past his home, on Oak Street, as she travelled to and from the local doctor’s surgery with her daughter and one-month-old grandson Owen.

Det Sgt Ninham said: “From what we’ve been told Ossie, which was his nickname, was sitting on a bench in his front garden initially. “With regard to the second visit he went inside the house and appeared at the font door fiddling with something. At that stage they didn’t know what it was but it then became apparent in his left hand he had a silver gun.”

He said Ms Puttock’s daughter, Lesley, then asked Osler if he was going to shoot her. Osler said he was going to shoot her Mother and fired the gun at the back of Ms Puttock’s head.

Giving evidence via video-link, Ms Puttock, 40, said she had undergone brain surgery after the shooting and had suffered permanent damage to her hearing and sight. She still required medical care, almost a year after the incident on July 19, 2010.

Her grandson suffered bruising when she fell on to his pram after being shot.

About 40 minutes after the shooting, which happened at 11.15am, officers found Osler dead in a field with a gun at his feet.

Pathologist Dr Nat Carey ruled he had died from a single gunshot wound to the back of the head.

Medical records showed that divorcee Olser had been diagnosed with depression in 2005 and had previously expressed suicidal emotions.

He had seen his doctor several times in the months leading up to his death and complained of feeling “low”.

In a statement read out at the inquest, his GP Dr Michael Pullen said: “It was completely unexpected and came as a great shock and surprise. “He never told me he had a firearm and I never believed he was a risk to himself or any members of the public.”

Osler, who had a criminal record and had been subject to a restraining order preventing him contacting Ms Peckham, did not hold a firearms licence at the time of the shooting.

Mr Armstrong recorded a verdict of suicide while suffering from depression.

He said: “There’s evidence Mark shot a gun at Rachel and it must have been his intention to harm her or kill her. There’s no other conclusion. He was suffering from depression and then shot himself with his gun. In the circumstances he did so to bring his life to an end.

“No other person was involved and there were no suspicious circumstances.”

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