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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 March, 2005, 13:22 GMT 14:22 UK
Pellet gun teacher sent to prison
Linda Walker
Linda Walker claimed the youths had vandalised her home
A special needs teacher who fired a pellet gun at youths she claimed had vandalised her house has been jailed for six months.

Linda Walker, 48, was "ranting and raving like a lunatic" when she fired the gun, a court had heard.

Walker, of Hollyhouse Drive, Urmston, Gtr Manchester, was convicted of affray and possessing a firearm with intent to cause fear or violence.

She said she was under stress at the time of the incident on 14 August 2004.

Walker claimed a campaign of vandalism by "yobbos" had driven her to fire the gun at the feet of a gang of teenagers she confronted near her home.

The teacher of children with behavioural difficulties at New Park School, Salford, had kept the gun in her underwear drawer for four months since her shed was burgled.

I've got an air rifle and a pistol and I'm going to shoot the vandals that come around here

She had also received nuisance phone calls abusing her 17-year-old son James while her other son Craig's car had been vandalised.

Fish had been stolen from her pond and her garden ornaments were thrown over a wall, her trial heard.

The final straw came when a washing-up liquid bottle full of water was emptied over her son's car, she said.

She went outside to confront the youths and, in a phone call to police, 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."

Walker fired the pistol at the road near the feet of Robert McKiernan, 18.

Family 'under attack'

Walker was sentenced at Manchester's Minshull St Crown Court on Tuesday to six months for possessing the firearm and one month for affray. The sentences will run concurrently.

Her 56-year-old partner, John Cavanagh, was cleared of affray last month.

Walker's defence barrister, Farrhat Ashad, said she admitted she had acted in a "very unfortunate" manner but had been under stress through work at the time.

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

Mrs Walker over stepped the line and attacked a group in an unprovoked, disproportionate manner
Det Sgt Frank Hayley, GMP

Her employer, Salford City Council, said she was suspended from her teaching job and would now face disciplinary action.

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said there was no "particular problem" with anti-social behaviour in the Urmston area and insisted there was "no evidence" to suggest the Walkers had been targeted for abuse by youths.

"While we support homeowners protecting themselves in line with the recent ACPO and CPS guidelines, Mrs Walker overstepped the line and attacked a group in an unprovoked, disproportionate manner," said Det Sgt Frank Hayley, of Trafford CID.

"The use of a firearm was an extreme reaction and Greater Manchester Police will not tolerate the use of such a weapon on the street, irrespective of the offender's justification."


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Listen to Linda Walker's phone call to the police



SEE ALSO:
Teacher, 47, guilty of gun charge
08 Feb 05 |  Manchester
Pellet gun teacher found guilty
07 Feb 05 |  Manchester
Teacher 'wanted to scare youths'
03 Feb 05 |  Manchester
Teacher 'fired gun near youths'
03 Feb 05 |  Manchester


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