A one-time promising jockey shot at innocent bystanders through his window with an air rifle after flying into a jealous rage while watching the Cheltenham Festival, a court heard yesterday, as he was jailed for more than two years.
James Brinkworth, 29, used a telescopic sight as he targeted four strangers over six hours in a “senseless and random” series of attacks in Exeter on March 15.
One victim, an Exeter University student, required an operation to remove an expanding pellet from his cheek after he was struck just below his eye.
Exeter Crown Court heard Dongya Wang could have been blinded if the shot had been fractionally higher. Other victims were left with bruising, with one pellet penetrating through three layers of clothing. Brinkworth fired at several other pedestrians, including children.
About 30 more shots were fired in total. He was arrested after armed police sealed off the area around the Globe Inn pub in Clifton Road, Exeter and a former soldier living above the pub pinpointed where the shots were coming from.
The court heard Brinkworth had been drinking all day while watching horse racing on the television and became angry and upset because he is a former jockey whose own career failed.
He saw some of the people he used to work with in the coverage of the Friday of the Cheltenham Festival and became morose.
His defence lawyer Emily Cook said: “He saw some of the people he had trained with racing that day and got to thinking about what he could have had and what he had lost. It led to him feeling anger and frustration.”
Brinkworth was jailed for two-and-a-half years after he admitted wounding Mr Wang, three counts of causing actual bodily harm to the other victims and criminal damage to a pub window.
Judge Peter Johnson told him: “You repeatedly aimed at people, including children, in order to get a reaction from them.
“Mercifully, the injuries were not as serious as they could have been, although Mr Wang suffered a serious injury to his face and had to have the pellet removed in a minor operation.
“All of this would have been extremely frightening for those who were subjected to a random and senseless attack. This was firing time and time again; not just the four pellets which hit people, but many more times.”