A gunman who inflicted a ‘horrendous ordeal’ on the staff and drinkers at a North Yorkshire pub has been jailed for 23 years.
Richard Bowser, 46, from Worcester Place in Bishop Auckland, was given a 19-year prison sentence and a four-year extended licence at Teesside Crown Court today (Wednesday).
It comes after he inflicted a night of terror on those at the Tan Hill Inn, famous for being Britain’s highest pub, on Friday, 21 July.
He attacked staff and customers and threatened one man with a gun, even pulling the trigger – but fortunately it failed to fire.
Detective Superintendent Fran Naughton, said: “We welcome the lengthy sentence handed in court today.
“We hope this sentence sends a clear message that violence, threatening behaviour and use of illegal firearms has no place in North Yorkshire, the actions of one man that night were abhorrent and have had a lasting effect on all those involved in this horrendous ordeal.
“The victim must be praised for his bravery and assistance throughout this investigation which played a fundamental part in gaining this conviction.
“Although we can’t undo the events of that evening, I hope the sentence passed today, will help give the victim some closure.”
Night of terror at world famous pub: Staff and drinkers subjected to ‘horrendous ordeal’
It is one of the most well known pubs in North Yorkshire – and beyond.
In fact, the Tan Hill Inn describes itself as “world famous”. Found on a hill overlooking stunning dales scenery, it is Britain’s highest pub – a place where walkers “brush shoulders and converse with people from the media, arts, music, film and theatre”.
But one night last summer the picturesque tourist attraction became a scene of absolute terror.
Disgruntled camper Richard Bowser subjected staff and customers to what North Yorkshire Police described as a “horrendous ordeal” all through the night on Friday, 21 July.
Bowser, 46, of Worcester Place, Bishop Auckland, County Durham, had travelled to the pub in Reeth, Richmond, that afternoon. He was booked into a camping pod on the site with a family member.
The trouble began at around 10.15pm when, after an evening spent in the bar, he struggled to pay for his drinks.
Bowser was asked to leave the bar after he swore and raised his voice – but he turned around and shouted abuse at a member of staff. He then slapped a customer on the head and pushed him and a female customer in the chest.
When a woman member of staff tried to intervene, he slapped her. Bowser then threw punches at a male member of staff, striking him in his face and head.
Pulled a gun
At this stage a customer pushed him out of the bar area and into the front porch. Others joined in and tried to restrain Bowser, who repeatedly hit one customer while lying on the porch floor.
The group manage to pull the customer away from Bowser. The melee is broken up and he walked out of the front entrance of the pub.
A member of staff then locked the door between the bar area and the porch.
A short time later Bowser was seen appearing to search for something in the camping pod where he was staying. At the same time, one of the victims, assaulted by Bowser, returned to his camper van where a family member saw his injuries.
The family member went to the camping pod where Bowser was staying. Bowser was aggressive towards him, so the man pretended he was looking for the toilet, to which Bowser replied: “I’ll take you to the toilet”. The man started walking towards the toilets with Bowser right behind him.
Bowser then tried to push him inside the toilet and pulled a gun. He put it in the man’s face and pulled the trigger, but the gun failed to fire.
The man rushed inside and locked the door behind him. Bowser shot four times, sending shrapnel through the door. The victim called police, asking them to send armed response officers as the offender was still outside.
Soon afterwards, Bowser went to the entrance of the pub. The front inner door to the bar area was still locked, preventing him from going inside, and he returned to his camping pod.
Two quick-thinking members of staff then moved customers from the bar into the barn before Bowser again attempted to enter the bar area.
When the police arrived they tasered Bowser. He was arrested and charged with attempted murder.
Following a trial at Teesside Crown Court last week, Bowser was convicted of wounding with intent and possession of firearms with intent to endanger life. He had already pleaded guilty to assault and actual bodily harm.
He was found not guilty of two charges of attempted murder. He will be sentenced at a later date.
Detective Superintendent Fran Naughton of North Yorkshire Police said: “The actions of Bowser that night were absolutely abhorrent and are likely to have a lasting effect on the victim and those who witnessed this horrendous ordeal.
“The other people caught up in this incident were innocently working or enjoying a summer’s evening out with family and friends. No one should be subjected to fear and violence like they were that evening.
“Praise must go to the brave and quick-thinking members of staff who not only ensured the safety of their customers but have fully supported the police investigation which has resulted in this conviction.
“This was an isolated incident carried out by one man. However, the impact his actions have had on everyone involved that night, and the wider Tan Hill community are lasting.
“Tan Hill is a popular area in North Yorkshire, and we hope this incident does not stop people enjoying this special location.”