Man Guilty of Road Rage Shooting

A man's been found guilty of a 'vicious and unprovoked' attack on a driver in Dover

A man who shot a motorist in the stomach at point blank range has been found guilty of wounding with intent this afternoon (Thursday 8 July 2010).

Paul Smith, aged 46, pleaded not guilty to attempted murder but admitted possession of a firearm on 29 June at Canterbury Crown Court.

Following a two-week trial a jury of seven women and five men returned a not guilty verdict for attempted murder, but found him guilty of the Section 18 offence wounding with intent.

Judge Adele Williams adjourned sentencing until Friday 27 August.

Smith, of Friars Way, Dover, shot 31-year-old James Saunders following an altercation at 10.15pm on Alkham Valley Road, Dover, on Monday 26 October last year.

Investigating officer Detective Chief Inspector Lee Whitehead from Kent Police’s Major Crime unit, said: “This was a vicious and unprovoked attack on an man who was enjoying a night out with his girlfriend and a friend.

“The victim has suffered life-changing injuries and the experience of that night will always stay with him.

“Smith was driving erratically and when Mr Saunders remonstrated with him, he lost his temper and shot him.

“Kent Police take any offence involving a firearm very seriously and will seek to prosecute wherever sufficient evidence is present.”

Canterbury Crown Court heard how Smith claimed he had bought the homemade firearm the night before and was intending to take his own life.

He said he was heavily depressed and suicidal following the birth of his daughter who was being treated in hospital for a rare skin disorder.

But Canterbury Crown Court heard how Smith, drove his Renault Megane at speed behind the Ford Fiesta driven by Mr Saunders who was en-route to Kearsney Abbey in Dover.

Smith sped past Mr Saunders’s car and then hit the brakes. Mr Saunders skidded to a halt and held his hand on the horn to remonstrate to the other driver.

Both men drove off before Smith stopped on a sharp right-hand incline on Alkham Valley Road.

Smith got out the Megane and approached Mr Saunders who had also left his vehicle.

The pair began to push and shove before Mr Saunders heard a “loud crack”. Smith got back in his car and drove off.

Mr Saunders realised he couldn’t walk and then felt “excruciating pain” and could see blood coming from his stomach.

He underwent surgery at William Harvey Hospital, Ashford, and had part of his bowel removed. He suffered three months of intense pain.

Kent Police launched an investigation and on 4 November Smith, who changed his name from Andrew Bywaters by deed poll, went to Folkestone police station with his solicitor to hand himself in.

Smith told officers “I shot him, I didn’t mean to.”

He admitted hiding the gun at Channel Gliding Club, Waldershare Park, Dover. Officers found two parts of the firearm, clothing worn by Smith and the Renault Megane he had been driving at that location