Grandad’s ‘perfect death’ holding gun

Police during last year's stand-off.
Police during last year's stand-off.
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A 61-year-old devoted grandfather, who died from a single bullet wound to the head following a 12-hour stand-off with police, once told a friend his perfect death would be “with a gun in his hand”.

The circumstances surrounding the death of mobility scooter user Barry Horspool, of Sutton St James, were outlined at a resumed inquest in Stamford yesterday.

Mr Horspool’s body was found in the council home he shared with his wife, Barbara, in Chapelgate on January 31 last year.

Professor Robert Forrest, coroner for South Lincolnshire, gave a summary of events to a jury of 11 in the Town Hall.

He said on the day of the incident, police had been called by Mr Horspool’s son-in-law, Paul Rutter.

Mr Rutter said Mr Horspool had threatened him, saying: “Go away or I’ll shoot you.”

An armed response unit was deployed to the scene, during which time a shot shattered the window of a police car, injuring an officer.

Neighbour Victor Leuty said he and Mr Horspool had been friends for about 30 years and had shared a love of field sports.

Mr Leuty said Mr Horspool was a good shot, but he had surrendered or sold his 12 bore shotguns and gave up his firearms licence about eight years ago when he became ill.

However, Mr Leuty said he believed a shotgun that had not needed a licence when Mr Horspool bought it was still in the house.

On the day of the incident, Mr Leuty had been out of town. When he returned there were helicopters overhead and police had cordoned off the area, preventing him from getting home.

Mr Leuty said he recalled a conversation with Mr Horspool about 15 years ago. He said: “Barry said if he ever became terminally ill he would kill himself. He said the perfect way to die would be with a gun in his hand.”

Asked why he thought Mr Horspool fired a shot the day he died, Mr Leuty said: “I think he just panicked because of the amount of fuss that was going on.”

GP Dr A Chabbria said he had treated Mr Horspool at The Suttons Medical Group for several chronic illnesses.

Mr Horspool had a condition that affected his spine and lungs, which is why he used a mobility scooter and very quickly needed oxygen after the slightest physical activity. He was also a diabetic and anaemic.

Dr Chabbria said he did not think any of Mr Horspool’s conditions or the medicine he was on would have made him act in an erratic way.

He said: “I am not aware of any mental health issues or violent tendencies.”

A statement by Jamie Canham, a bailiff employed by npower, was read out and referred to an incident in August the previous year.

Mr Canham said he had visited Mr Horspool on a number of occasions, the final time with a magistrates warrant to get a pre-payment meter fitted.

He said Mr Horspool was instantly abusive and threatened to wrap his walking stick around his and his colleague’s head.

Police were informed and PC Steven Wells was called to the scene. Mr Canham said: “The man (Mr Horspool) used both hands around the officer’s throat, but he removed them and the officer tried to calm the situation.”

Although charges were not made at the time, on the day of the incident leading to Mr Horspool’s death, PC Wells said he felt duty bound to inform his colleagues about it.

PC Wells said: “I told them he was verbally and physically hostile. I said any negotiation would be impossible.”

The case continues.