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Last Updated: Friday, 1 April 2005, 10:30 GMT 11:30 UK
Should pellet gun teacher have been jailed?
Linda Walker
A special needs teacher who fired a pellet gun at youths following alleged vandalism has been sent to prison for six months.

Linda Walker from Urmston, Greater Manchester claimed that a campaign by local youths had driven her to fire the gun at the feet of a gang of teenagers she confronted near her home.

But Greater Manchester Police (GMP) say there was no "particular problem" with anti-social behaviour in the area and that there was "no evidence" to indicate that Ms Walker's family had been targeted for abuse by youths.

Should Linda Walker have been sent to prison? What do you think of the verdict and the sentence?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

The following comments reflect the balance of views received so far:

This topic was suggested by Gerry, England:
Should the pellet gun teacher have been sent to prison?

I have heard and read that she called the police 15 times to report the problems she experienced and the GMP dare to say that there is no "particular problem" with anti-social behaviour? What planet are they living on?
Richard Way, Luton, UK

The government does not want us to defend ourselves, for some bizarre reason. She has been sent to prison to make an example.
DW, Sheffield, UK

Linda Walker should not be sent to jail. If the children of today did not get away with so much then maybe the rest of us wouldn't need to take the law into our own hands. I sympathise with Linda Walker and put in the same situation I would have done the same. Prosecute the criminals not the victims!
Nikki, Swansea

We need one law for all, not one law for the respectable and one for yobs
Peter, Nottingham
I'm horrified at the attitude to law and order expressed by her. How can it be justifiable for a teacher to shoot at kids but wrong for kids to shoot at a teacher? We need one law for all, not one law for the "respectable" and one for "yobs".
Peter, Nottingham

No, she should not have been jailed at all. There are real criminals out there getting community service for much worse than this. This woman was simply defending her property and herself
Steve, Lancashire, UK

The police, the courts, the Home Office, the government, the whole human rights lobby should sit back and take a long quiet think about the reactions of most people to this story. Most people's reaction is one of immense sympathy and support for Ms Walker. In other words, most people have lost confidence in the criminal justice establishment's ability to police society and punish criminals. When will they understand that the public are crying out for an appropriate (and not politically correct) response to the tide of lawlessness?
Nicholas, London

It's an interesting situation. The government says "Let's get tough on crime" but where are the police when it matters! What this lady did was clearly wrong but equally I am not sure that the punishment fits the crime. On top of all this she may lose her job and that will amount to double overly harsh punishment.
Tim Rollinson, Tonbridge, UK

Six months for reaching her wits end, trying to defend all that she's ever worked for? Grand reward!! And the yobs who drove her to it? Down the pub boasting, no doubt. The police have lost sight of their obligations and duty to society. And the government are legislating on behalf of the perpetrators, and are totally indifferent to the victims of crime.
Kevin, Tetbury, Glos

There is no place in civilised society for vigilantism
Kyle Walkley, Bognor Regis, UK
I'm sorry, but no matter what this woman had been subjected to by the youths, she has no right to point a weapon at them. There is no place in civilised society for vigilantism.
Kyle Walkley, Bognor Regis, UK

A harrowing situation which needs to be tackled very carefully. Sending the teacher to prison sends a very wrong message. She must have been scared out of her wits before firing that pellet gun. Instead she should have been cautioned. The youths obviously drove her to a hysterical state and that should have been taken into consideration.
Pancha Chandra, Brussels, Belgium

It is a terrible shame that this woman is to be punished so severely, a ticking off would have sufficed. Now it appears she may lose her job as well. This just makes me feel despair at our judicial system - fair for who?
C. Rice, UK

She should have been cautioned and not jailed. People like Linda Walker are the victims in today's society. The police and the law have failed them.
Ken, England UK

The police and Crown Prosecution Service were quick off the mark to put this lady into the judicial system. Why are they reluctant - or afraid - of dealing with other offenders with the same enthusiasm?
Roy Gilbert, West Midlands

It is for the authorities to take the necessary action
Rasab, Nelson, England
Whilst it is easy to understand the reasons why Ms Walker took such drastic action, we cannot condone vigilantism. It is for the authorities to take the necessary action. However, the underlying issue our society needs to address is the yob culture that is making life hell for an ever increasing number of decent law abiding citizens.
Rasab, Nelson, England

Unfortunately, the answer has to be yes. But this is a typical situation found almost anywhere in the UK. The youths who decide to terrorise neighbourhoods do so because they know that even if they get caught, they will most likely get a fine which most will not pay.
Neil Small, Scotland

I well understand her frustration. There are yobs everywhere here (Fife). The police can't be bothered dealing with them, too much paperwork. Tony Blair said he'd deal with 'yob culture' but it's still thriving. Six months prison was too harsh a sentence for that lady.

I live in the area. In the phone call she said that if the police didn't get there soon she would fire the gun. The police station is little over a mile away. They could have easily got to the scene before the air gun was fired. In my opinion her actions were justified as nobody should have to put up with this kind of abuse.
Joe, Urmston, Manchester

She must have been right at the end of her tether
Sharon, UK
Whilst I don't condone what this lady did, she must have been right at the end of her tether. It just goes to show that people are being pushed to the very limit because of the behaviour of certain youths today. They know they are untouchable and people are being persecuted on a daily basis. Where are the parents of these kids? They are the ones who should be punished for not looking after their offspring properly.
Sharon, UK

I think that the sentence is fair. She should be punished for taking the law into her own hands. Instead of firing a pellet gun she should have filmed them and then sent it to the police.
Alex C, Aylesbury

Where were the police when these yobs were taunting her? If the police did their job, she wouldn't have felt so defenceless, and wouldn't have had to resort to desperate measures.
Carol, Brentwood, Essex

I have been subjected to exactly the same treatment as this lady for being a teacher. My windows have been put through, my car damaged and my family and I have been assaulted and abused. I know what she was going through and have felt like exacting retribution myself. She should not have gone to jail. Perhaps if some of the criminals the judge had dealt with had done the same to him, then he might have had a very different perspective and might have imposed a non-custodial sentence. What she did was wrong, but the real criminals do far worse and get away with it.
Anonymous, North of England

Surely we must support the use of courts, not lynch mobs to deal with criminality
David, London, UK
Some of the responses above are truly astonishing! Surely we must support the use of courts, not lynch mobs to deal with criminality. Our society still requires evidence before we punish people, this woman had none. One of the charges was for just possessing the weapon - nobody should be waving guns around on our streets for any reason.
David, London, UK

Everybody I talk to is fed up with the lawlessness that is rapidly increasing in this country. The police don't act, yet everywhere there are anti-social criminals getting away with theft and violence. I predict that we will see more and more people taking action themselves, as the police, and government, fail to bring crime under control.
David Roberts, Crewe

While it is sad that an otherwise respectable person should have to go to these lengths in order to protect themselves, it is still not right for any individual to take the law into their own hands. While she should be punished, I am not sure that such a long sentence is appropriate.
Lee C, Portsmouth, UK

It's a disgrace this woman has been sent to prison. The job she does requires extreme patience. To drive her to an action such as this would have taken maximum provocation. She's the victim in this. Release her immediately. We are the laughing stock of Europe once again.
Gill, Southern Spain

She most certainly should not have been jailed, or even prosecuted. People cannot be expected to sit back and let themselves, their loved ones and their property be attacked. They have every right to fight back when they are subjected to this sort of terrorisation. She did what she had to do.
Jamie Shepherd, UK

Pathetic moral cowardice of society. We are happy to lock up a defenceless woman but still do not have a courage to tackle the real scourge of society - criminal youths. Makes me sick.
Ken, UK

No matter what these kids were doing, playing the vigilante in the manner of Charles Bronson is not the answer in a civilised society. The verdict and sentence are appropriate.
Nigel Pond, Brit living in the USA

I can understand her frustration at being targeted by youths, but they didn't seem to have done anything to warrant waving a gun at them.
Tracey, Surrey

No of course she should NOT go to jail. She should be awarded a medal! Well done to her.
Mesh, Leicester, UK

The police said she had overreacted. Well it seems the judge has done so in this case too.
Colin, London, UK

Of course she should have been jailed. What would have happened if one of the youths she shot at had been injured? I think the sentence is much too short. Where does she think she is, America?
Philip, Wigan, England

Pellet gun teacher sent to prison
29 Mar 05 |  Manchester

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