Man denies attempted murder of neighbours
A Norfolk man who shot his neighbours at close range after a bitter feud over their choice of dog yesterday denied he had wanted to kill them but said he wanted to 'break their hearts' by shooting their pets.
Norwich Crown Court heard that builder kevin Barrett, 57, embarked on a campaign against David and Susan Venn, after they decided to buy a rottweiler-mastiff cross called Milly from a rescue centre to keep their Chesapeake Bay retriever George, company.
This is said to have come to a head on June 23, last year, when Barrett fired a single barrelled shotgun at Mr Venn and then reloaded and shot Mrs Venn in the back in the driveway of their home in High Street, Nordelph, near Downham Market.
Barrett denies two counts of attempted murder, one of wounding with intent in relation to Mrs Venn and one of possession of a firearm. He has pleaded guilty to wounding with intent in relation to Mr Venn.
Giving evidence yesterday, Barrett described how he and his wife Janice had been best of friends with the Venns and described them as being fantastic neighbours.
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Before the Venns brought their home from Barrett, who is a builder, he made it clear that he and his wife were terrified of large dogs.
He said they had not minded when the Venns got George but was 'gobsmacked' when he found out they were planning to get a larger dog from a rescue centre.
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'I was absolutely horrified. It was the one thing guaranteed to turn my wife and me to jelly would be having to confront something like that.'
He begged Mr Venn not to go ahead with getting Milly but said Mr Venn told him they had made a commitment.
He said after Milly arrived his wife's whole character changed from the bubbly personality she used to be: 'She was very edgy and jumpy and hard to talk to. She would sit there as if she was about to cry.'
He admitted he smashed a chiminea they shared with the Venns after Mr Venn had told him they wanted to 'go their own way' and also destroyed his half of a riverside landing area in front of their homes.
He also admitted throwing a sausage over the fence for the dog as he hoped if the Venns thought it might be poisoned they would stop letting the dog out on its own.
He also got his wife to swear abuse at the dog to give her 'something to fight back with' and got Mr Venn to put higher fencing round his house.
He said eventually his wife's health suffered so much he decided to re mortgage their home in Nordeplh for �166,000 which the used to go on a world trip
When they returned in May last year they rented a flat in Hertford but he had gone back to the home in Nordelph in June and picked up a gun which he had left with a friend and told him he wanted to 'shoot a couple of dogs.'
'I wanted to shoot the dogs and break their hearts the way they had broken our hearts.'
He said he brought the gun about 15 to 20 years ago and never had a certificate for it as he did not think he needed one: 'I have never fired a gun in my life.'
He said he went back to the house in Nordelph and had tried to see if the dogs were in the garden but they were not.
He was outside his home when the Venns arrived back and came sweeping onto his half of the shared driveway in their car.
Barrett said he just saw red.
'I was in a complete and utter turmoil.'
He said he smashed the car windscreen with a shovel and then picked up the gun and had shot Mr Venn and then had relaoded and shot at Mrs Venn who was going to call the police.
He said he had not meant to kill Mr Venn and had only fired the gun at Mrs Venn to scare her and did not intend to hurt her.
He said he told Mr Venn he had ruined his life.
Afterwards he said he could not believe how he came to be in this position: 'It's destroyed me.' The trial continues.