Lancashire man who shot innocent student in face after launching 'cowardly attack' on group of teens jailed

A man who shot an innocent student in Lancashire following an earlier dispute between his brother and a group of teenagers has been jailed.

By Sean Gleaves
Thursday, 2nd December 2021, 7:09 am

Neil Barnett got into a verbal dispute with a group of teenagers at the Morrisons store in Colne Road, Brierfield shortly before 7pm on March 10, 2020.

After accusing the teenagers of pushing in front of him in a queue, Barnett went on to say a racial slur before stating he would kill them and their family.

Barnett was followed into an alleyway following the confrontation and a physical altercation took place "from which he came off worse".

When Neil Barnett got back to his feet he placed a nine second call to his brother, Lee Barnett, who quickly made his way to Brierfield from Burnley.

The brothers were spotted banging metal objects on railings close to Brierfield town centre as they sought out those involved in the fight.

The group that had earlier fought with Neil Barnett ran off in different directions after spotting the armed brothers, as well as innocent bystanders.

One of the innocent onlookers was a 19-year-old man who was approached by axe-wielding Neil Barnett after getting separated from his friends.

A man who shot an innocent student in Brierfield following an earlier dispute between his brother and a group of teenagers has been jailed (Credit: Lancashire Police)

The brothers grappled the student to the floor before Lee Barnett shouted at his brother to: "Hold him. Hold him."

Lee Barnett then shot the victim at close range with a shotgun, causing "serious injuries to his face".

Police said his injuries were "thankfully not life-threatening".

A major police investigation was launched and 37-year-old Lee Barnett and 34-year-old Neil Barnett were arrested the following day at Burnley Recycling Centre.

Lee Barnett pleaded guilty to attempted murder and was sentenced to 28 years in prison (Credit: Lancashire Police)

The brothers, both of Kinross Street, Burnley, were charged with attempted murder following consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service.

Lee Barnett pleaded guilty to attempted murder and Neil Barnett pleaded guilty to Section 18 Wounding after appearing at Burnley Crown Court earlier this year.

Lee Barnett was today (December 2) sentenced to 28 years in prison and Neil Barnett was jailed for seven years and two months.

Neil Barnett was also given an extended licence period of three years after he was classed as a dangerous offender.

Neil Barnett pleaded guilty to Section 18 Wounding and was jailed for seven years and two months (Credit: Lancashire Police)

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In a statement, the victim said: "I would like to thank Lancashire Constabulary and all the officers involved, who have dedicated their time and effort in getting justice for me and my family.

"This has been a traumatic time for me and I am grateful that justice has prevailed."

Det Chief Insp Jane Webb, of Lancashire Police's Force Major Investigation Team, said the level of violence used by Lee and Neil Barnett was "shocking, completely disproportionate and could have easily resulted in the death of an innocent young man".

She added: "After being involved in an earlier altercation with a group of males, Neil Barnett recruited his brother in his search for vengeance and they launched a cowardly attack on a man who was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"The defendants chose not to answer any questions during their police interviews. Thanks to the overwhelming evidence compiled by our dedicated investigation team - very much supported by the local community who willingly provided us with the critical CCTV evidence in this case - the defendants were left with little option but to admit what they had done.

"I hope these sentences send out the strong message that violence of any kind will not be tolerated in Lancashire, and that we will work with our colleagues at the Crown Prosecution Service to bring those responsible to justice."

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