Fenland gunman jailed for 12 years after shooting at family home over prison feud

A MAN who fired a shotgun at the home of a young family over a prison feud has been jailed for a total of 12 years.

Robert Phillips, 44, fired three shots outside a Wisbech home in February 2007. But he managed to escape justice until cutting-edge ballistic tests linked a gun found at his home to the crime scene.

Phillips, of Lords Lane, Wisbech St Mary, had lent cash to a fellow inmate while they were both serving short sentences in 2005. But he was furious when the man failed to pay him the money back following their release.

On February 26, 2007, Phillips received a letter confirming his civil attempt to reclaim the cash had failed. The next day he went to the man’s home in High Road, Gorefield, Wisbech, armed with a pump-action shotgun to seek revenge.

While the man’s estranged partner and three children, aged 19, 11 and five months, were in the home, Phillips fired two shots at the windows of the house. Phillips’ target had been sitting in his van in the driveway at the time and jumped out to tackle him.

During the struggle he described Phillips pointing the gun at him and trying to pull the trigger. He threw himself to the ground and Phillips fired a shot in his direction before fleeing in a waiting vehicle.

Police were quickly on the scene and Phillips was arrested a short time later. However, he denied the offence and the gun was not recovered.

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In a separate investigation in July 2008, Phillips was arrested in connection with a large scale fraud of �50,000 worth of fuel being taken from Shell via a fraudulent account.

Officers launched a huge search of Phillips’ home and surrounding area. Divers, dog search teams and cranes were brought in to scour the site and six stolen vehicles were recovered. Crucially a pump-action shotgun was also discovered in a secret panel of Phillips’ wardrobe along with 36 live cartridges.

Phillips, who already had a firearms conviction, pleaded guilty to a number of fraud offences, handling stolen motor vehicles and possession of the shotgun. He was sentenced to five-and-a-half years in February 2009.

Scientific tests by the Forensic Science Service and a firearms expert from the National Police Improvement Agency, showed the cartridges recovered from Phillips’ home matched pellets fired in 2007.

The shooting investigation was reopened, but Phillips claimed he had been given the gun in early 2008.

But detectives had also managed to trace two further witnesses, including the driver on the night of the shooting.

Phillips pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm with intent to cause fear at Cambridge Crown Court yesterday (January 4). He was sentenced to a further six and a half years taking his jail term to a total of 12 years.

Detective Inspector Martin Brunning, said: “Our investigation into Robert Phillips started in 2008 when we looked into the high value fraud involving fuel. When the firearm was discovered it meant we could re-open the investigation into the terrifying shooting the previous year.

“The forensic work around ballistics gave us strong evidence to link him to the crime scene and bring further charges.

“Phillips is a dangerous criminal who showed his ruthless side by firing shots at a home where young children were celebrating a birthday party.

“This sentence should send out a strong message that people who resort to such levels of violence face a considerable time behind bars.”