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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 August 2006, 11:29 GMT 12:29 UK
Man jailed for pigeon row killing
Susan Rondel
Susan Rondel believed Stockton had poisoned her pet cat
A man has been jailed for killing his neighbour after blaming her for a fire which killed 50 of his pigeons.

Pigeon-fancier Michael Stockton, 44, of Audley, Staffordshire, shot dead Susan Rondel after a heavy drinking session.

The father-of-two told Birmingham Crown Court he had no memory of shooting Mrs Rondel, 48, originally from Wales, who had accused him of poisoning her cat.

Stockton, jailed for eight years, was acquitted of murder but convicted of manslaughter due to provocation.

Jailing Stockton on Wednesday, the Recorder of Birmingham, Judge John Saunders QC, said the defendant had taken Mrs Rondel's life in the most violent possible way.

I accept that the events of the previous six months had weighed heavily upon you
Judge John Saunders QC

"Whatever may or may not have happened between the two of you in the past, nothing that had happened in any way justifies what you did," he said.

"The jury have accepted that what happened in the past may have amounted to provocation.

"I deal with you on the basis that you lost your self-control that night and I accept that the events of the previous six months had weighed heavily upon you."

Stockton, who owned a number of legally-held firearms, had abused and breached the trust placed in him by the authorities in using one of the weapons to commit the killing, the judge added.

Michael Stockton
Michael Stockton legally owned a number of firearms

There was a long-term background of friction between the pair and Stockton had previously shouted anti-Welsh abuse at Mrs Rondel, who was originally from Wrexham.

On the night of the killing he had shot out her security light before blasting off the lock of her kitchen door. Stockton shot the mother-of-two at close range.

The family of Mrs Rondel, who was awaiting trial on drug charges at the time of her death, issued a statement describing her as full of life and energy.

"She was a devoted mother, grandmother and sister and her premature death has left a void in our lives that will never be filled," it said.

'Cats and pigeons'

"We are unable to comprehend the reasons that drove Michael Stockton to take away Susan's life in such a brutal and callous manner."

Det Insp Guy Titchener, of Staffordshire Police, said: "Clearly, the relationship between cats and pigeons got out of hand - with both parties blaming each other for the poisoning of cats and the interference and death of pigeons.

"Tragically, this escalated in June last year when Mr Stockton's loft was burnt down.

"There is no evidence to suggest that Mrs Rondel was involved in the planning of that incident."

Hear about the background to the case

Jury decides on killed neighbour
15 Aug 06 |  Staffordshire
Man told son he killed neighbour
09 Aug 06 |  Staffordshire
Neighbour 'killed in pigeon row'
08 Aug 06 |  Staffordshire

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