Pensioner shot at in graveyard

St Paul's Church graveyard, behind St Paul's Church, Goose Green

St Paul's Church graveyard, behind St Paul's Church, Goose Green

A Wigan pensioner was shot and injured by an air weapon as he tended his late wife’s grave.

And furious relatives of the unnamed 82-year-old, who suffered bruising to his leg, say this was no freak accident because moments later a second projectile narrowly missed him.

I dashed round and came to the conclusion the shots came from either a window in the new houses overlooking the cemetery or from the trees but it’s uphill from there. How low can mankind stoop?

Victim’s son-in-law

The shaken victim, who was with his daughter at the time, does not want to take the matter further.

But residents living near St Paul’s Church in Goose Green, where the shooting took place, and the vicar himself spoke of their shock and anger.

One neighbour said: “It’s absolutely disgusting: is nothing sacred? How appalling for the gentleman concerned and how shameful for those responsible.”

And Rev Neil Cook condemned the incident, calling it a “cruel and dangerous act.”

Relatives of the victim reported the June 6 incident to police, who confirmed details but say they will not be investigating because of the pensioner’s reluctance to take the matter further.

But his son-in-law said “This is absolutely disgusting and I’m fuming.

“In St Paul’s Cemetery my 80+-year-old father-in-law (with my sister-in-law) was tending his wife’s grave when he was shot at and hit with either a BB gun or an air rifle.

“It wasn’t an accident because a few seconds later another ‘pellet’ whistled past them both.

“I dashed round and came to the conclusion the shots came from either a window in the new houses overlooking the cemetery or from the trees but it’s uphill from there.

“How low can mankind stoop?”

A police spokesman said that the incident was reported to have happened at 9.50am on Monday, June 6 and that the victim had suffered bruising to his leg, although the thickness of his trousers prevented more serious injuries.

He said that because the gentleman didn’t want to make an official statement the matter would not be investigated further although it was being flagged up to the local neighbourhood policing team for further action which could include speaking to residents.

Rev Cook said: “We were alerted by a church member as to what had happened in our churchyard.

“Of course, we were totally shocked by such a cruel and dangerous act being perpetrated here - we’ve never heard of anything like this happening in our, or indeed any, churchyard before.

“Visiting a loved one’s grave here at St Paul’s is important for so many local people. It’s part of the grieving and healing process. Therefore it’s vital the churchyard is an open, public place where people can feel safe, mourn in peace and spend as much time as they wish in quiet contemplation.

“The vast majority of people treat the churchyard with utmost respect and we hope that the gentleman concerned and everyone else who visits will continue to find it a place of comfort and solace.”

Another resident living near the church in St Paul’s Avenue said: “It wouldn’t surprise me at all if it was children. There are often a lot of them hanging around the churchyard.

“How terrible that an elderly man should be attacked anywhere, let alone when visiting his wife’s grave.”