Man guilty of road rage shooting

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The Independent Online

A man was found guilty today of shooting another motorist in the stomach during a road rage incident.

Paul Smith, 46, of Friars Way, Dover, Kent, shot James Saunders, 31, at point-blank range following an altercation in Alkham Valley Road, Dover, on the evening of October 26 last year.

He had pleaded not guilty to attempted murder but admitted possession of a firearm at an earlier hearing at Canterbury Crown Court.

Following a two-week trial, jurors today cleared him of the charge of attempted murder but found him guilty of another charge of wounding with intent, a Kent Police spokesman said.

The court heard that the incident occurred after Smith drove his Renault Megane at speed behind Mr Saunders' Ford Fiesta then sped in front of him and hit his brakes.

Mr Saunders skidded to a halt and held his hand on the horn to remonstrate to Smith before both men drove off.

Smith then stopped on a sharp right-hand incline on Alkham Valley Road where he waited for Mr Saunders.

Both men got out of their cars and began to push and shove before Mr Saunders heard a "loud crack" and Smith got back in his car and drove away.

Mr Saunders realised he could not walk and then felt "excruciating pain" and saw blood coming from his stomach, the court heard.

He underwent surgery at William Harvey Hospital in Ashford where he had part of his bowel removed and went on to suffer three months of intense pain.

Smith claimed he had bought the homemade firearm the night before with the intention of taking his own life.

He told the court he was heavily depressed and suicidal following the birth of his daughter who was being treated in hospital for a rare skin disorder.

After handing himself in to police on November 4 he admitted hiding the gun at Channel Gliding Club at Waldershare Park, Dover.

Officers went on to find two parts of the firearm, clothing worn by Smith, and the Renault Megane he had been driving there.

Judge Adele Williams adjourned sentencing until August 27.

Investigating officer, Detective Chief Inspector Lee Whitehead from the force's major crime unit, said: "This was a vicious and unprovoked attack on an man who was enjoying a night out with his girlfriend and a friend.

"The victim has suffered life-changing injuries and the experience of that night will always stay with him.

"Smith was driving erratically and when Mr Saunders remonstrated with him, he lost his temper and shot him.

"Kent Police take any offence involving a firearm very seriously and will seek to prosecute wherever sufficient evidence is present."