Teacher jailed for confronting youth with pellet gun

A teacher who opened fire with a pellet gun after "yobbos" launched a campaign of vandalism against her family was jailed today.

Linda Walker, 48, who teaches children with behavioural problems, kept the gun in her underwear drawer for four months after her shed was burgled.

In August last year a confrontation with a gang of youths drove her to fire the weapon at the pavement near one teenager's feet.

Walker was found guilty of affray and possessing a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence after a week-long trial at Manchester Crown Court last month.

Today the teacher was sentenced to six months in jail for possessing the firearm and one month in jail for affray.

Recorder Louis Browne told her the sentences would run concurrently. He said she would serve half the sentence and that the rest of the term would be suspended.

Walker, wearing a light pink skirt and white shirt, showed little emotion as her sentence was read out at Manchester's Minshull Street Crown Court.

Her 56-year-old partner John Cavanagh, who was cleared of affray last month, showed no emotion either.

The incident occurred early on August 14, last year near to Walker's home in Hollyhouse Drive, Urmston, Greater Manchester, which she shares with Cavanagh and her twin sons.

At her trial, the court was told she had been receiving nuisance phone calls calling her 17-year-old son James a "poof".

The wing mirror of her other son Craig's car had also been broken off.

Walker told police her shed had been broken into, her garden ornaments had been thrown over the wall and fish had been stolen from her pond.

The final provocation came when Walker, who was head of year 11, in charge of food technology and careers co-ordinator at New Park School in Salford, saw a washing-up liquid container full of water had been emptied over her son's car.

She went outside to confront a group of youths who were standing about 250 yards away before returning to her home to fetch two guns.

In a phone call to the police, she said: "I'm going over to that field over the road, I've got an air rifle and a pistol and I'm going to shoot the vandals that come around here.

"I've got an air rifle and a pistol and I'm going to shoot them."

She told the court that she picked up her partner's Walther CP88 gas-powered pellet pistol, which he kept in her underwear drawer, and an air rifle belonging to her teenage son.

Walker left the house to confront the youths again, pointed the pistol at the feet of 18-year-old Robert McKiernan and then fired it at the road.

Walker told police she had left the house "like a madwoman possessed".

She said: "I feel totally, totally distressed after all these things that have been happening.

"I know you do your best, but the law is on the side of the yobbos, these criminals, not the victim."

Although the washing-up liquid bottle was not a serious incident in itself, it was "the straw that broke the camel's back", the court heard.

The teacher said she had tested the pistol before leaving her house, firing it at the top of the staircase.

She told police: "The pellet hit the top of the stairs. My son was standing on the landing so it was probably very foolish of me. It could have ricocheted off and hit him."

In mitigation defence barrister Farrhat Arshad told the court that Walker was a woman of good character who had "given her lot to society".

She said: "She acted in a manner which she now recognises was very unfortunate. A number of stressful circumstances came to a head on that day.

"The court is familiar with the acts of petty vandalism and theft that were caused to her property.

"Although they may appear as petty the effects on Mrs Walker were great.

"She thought her family, which was supposed to be safe, was being attacked."

Miss Arshad told the court that the 48-year-old was put under extra pressure when the school she taught at was put under special measures.

"It was very stressful for the teachers who taught there," she said. "She was subjected to stress as well as emotional disturbance."

During the trial a former head teacher at New Park School told the court that Walker had been praised by Ofsted inspectors every time there was an inspection.

Nigel Haslam said: "She was very professional and thorough and always punctual and prompt.

"She worked all the hours that came and provided the students with many opportunities to succeed."

Sentencing Walker to a total of six months in jail, the judge told her that she knew exactly what she was doing when she went back to get her guns.

He told her that the offences she had committed were "serious" and that her response to the incident had been "wholly disproportionate".

He said: "You assumed these individuals were likely to be the same individuals who had caused the vandalism to your property."

He added: "Both the weapons were capable of causing lethal injury."

Mr Cavanagh, a college lecturer in Salford, left the court refusing to comment on his partner's sentence.

A spokesman for Salford City Council said: "Linda Walker was suspended from her teaching post pending this police investigation and court action.

"Now legal proceedings are ended, any formal disciplinary action can also be concluded. This will be completed as quickly as possible."

News
A cleaner prepares the red carpet for the opening night during the 59th International Cannes Film Festival May 17, 2006 in Cannes, France.
newsPowerful vacuum cleaners to be banned under EU regulations
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson has rejected criticisms of his language, according to BBC director of television Danny Cohen
tv
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
A polar bear’s diet is rich in seal blubber and half of its own body weight is composed of fat
i100
Life and Style
fashion David Beckham fronts adverts for his underwear collection
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
News
Ronahi Serhat, a PKK fighter, in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape