Punishment shooting theory in motiveless murder

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THE APPARENTLY motiveless murder of a street cleaner could have been a punishment shooting which went wrong, it emerged yesterday.

Police said there seemed to be no clear motive for the killing of Ian Butler, 49, of Stokenchurch, Buckinghamshire, who was shot late on Thursday as he left home to start a night shift.

But neighbours who went to Mr Butler's aid said they thought the shooting was an attempted 'knee-capping' aimed at maiming him.

An off-duty police officer, PC Bev Rooney, 35, helped to stem the flow of blood as he lay dying. 'He had been shot in the right leg and I thought there was nothing we were going to be able to do to save it. It looked like a knee-capping job.'

Another neighbour said: 'I think the shot was intended to maim him rather than kill him.' Two local youths chased the gunman 250 yards across a common but lost him when he reached an alleyway.

A neighbour said: 'One lad tried to grab the gunman's legs. We think he ran down the alleyway to a waiting car, which was spotted earlier dropping a youth off.' Mr Butler, who lived with his parents, suffered a heart attack and died before reaching hospital.

Yesterday, detectives were examining Mr Butler's house and searching a housing estate in nearby High Wycombe for clues.