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Man accused of shooting neighbour’s dog told wife ‘get my gun’ before shot was fired, court hears

PUBLISHED: 13:39 05 April 2018 | UPDATED: 08:41 06 April 2018

Ipswich Crown Court. Picture: PHIL MORLEY

Ipswich Crown Court. Picture: PHIL MORLEY

Archant

A witness in the trial of a man accused of shooting and killing his neighbour’s dog has told a court the gunshot went off in her ear and sounded “like a thunderclap”.

Melanie Conway-Lusted raced from her home in Undley Road, Lakenheath, into Robin Rolph’s next-door garden after hearing her neighbour tell his wife to “get his gun”, Ipswich Crown Court heard yesterday.

Giving evidence, Mrs Conway-Lusted said her “mild-tempered” and “gentle” Labrador cross Coco had gone missing on the afternoon of September 13 last year – and members of her family were trying to find her.

As she rushed to her neighbour’s garden, where it was feared Coco may have gone, she said a gunshot went off in her left ear.

“I will never forget that noise,” she told the court.

“It sounded like a thunderclap.”

Arriving in the Rolphs’ garden Mrs Conway-Lusted said she found Rachel Gilbert, who used to muck out the family’s horses three times a week, on her knees.

“I saw Rachel on the grass sobbing her eyes out, saying ‘You didn’t have to shoot her’,” she said. “I started screaming.”

While the incident was going on she said Mr Conway-Lusted – who had a history of heart attacks – became unwell. She told the court he fell to the ground, adding: “My husband was on the ground twitching. I thought he was dead.”

Rolph, 78, of Undley Road, Lakenheath, has denied affray and destroying a dog belonging to Mr Conway-Lusted on September 13, 2017. Mrs Gilbert broke down in tears in the witness stand when she saw a picture of Coco.

She told the jury that she had gone to look for her boss’s dog in the Rolphs’ garden.

During which time, she allegedly heard Robin Rolph say: “If you don’t get off my property I will shoot you too.”

Coco’s dead body was found by a perimeter fence the next day, the court heard.

After his arrest, Rolph said he heard his wife screaming and saw Coco had his dog Ted in its mouth and was shaking him.

He went to get his gun and loaded it with two cartridges and fearing that Coco, who he claimed had jumped on a wall and was facing him, was going to attack him he had panicked and fired a shot.

He said he hadn’t wanted to wound the dog.

The trial continues.

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