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Monday, 1 July, 2002, 16:58 GMT 17:58 UK
'Nasty' airgun attack on disabled man
Generic police in car picture
Cleveland Police say airguns can kill
Police are hunting a gunman who wounded a severely disabled man as he walked home with his father's newspaper.

Leslie Phillips, 45, who was born deaf-blind and without speech needed hospital treatment after being shot in an air rifle attack in Middlesbrough, police said.

Mr Philips was walking back from his local newsagent in Penwith Road with the paper when he was shot in the stomach at 0915 BST on Sunday.

PC Andrew Overton of Cleveland Police said: "This is a particularly nasty attack on a vulnerable person.


Everyone around here knows him and whoever did this fired directly at him

Ada Philips, mother of victim
"Air weapons can kill, they are not toys and it is obvious whoever fired this gun knew what they were doing."

The victim's mother Ada, 81, said she wanted the culprit to see the damage they had done to her defenceless son.

She said: "I would really like them to see who they had hit and know what he has gone through before they did this.

"He does marvellously and is quite an agreeable and happy person."

Despite being born with disabilities after his mother, a former nurse, was exposed to German measles while pregnant, Mr Phillips lives an independent life, catching the bus to work every day in a Teesside factory.

Four operations

He was preparing to go on holiday to Spain this Friday when he was shot a few hundred yards from his home in Aldridge Road, Middlesbrough.

Although he was born blind he now has partial sight in one eye but that is failing, and he has undergone four operations this year, his mother said.

Mrs Phillips said: "He is very independent and a clever lad. He just cannot make conversation.

"Everyone around here knows him and whoever did this fired directly at him."

Doctors have told Mrs Phillips they will leave the pellet in her son's abdomen.

Police are looking for a gang of youths who they believe may be responsible.


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01 May 02 | Scotland
14 Apr 02 | Scotland
27 Mar 02 | England
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