Man who fired shotgun at ‘love rival’ fails in bid for reduced jail term

A man who fired a shotgun at his ‘love rival’ has failed in a legal bid to secure a reduced prison term.

Robert Gillespie, 54, challenged the 12-year sentence imposed for a menacing campaign which also involved setting fire to the victim’s car.

But judges in the Court of Appeal rejected claims on Friday that he was wrongly denied any credit for admitting some of the offences.

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Lord Justice McCloskey ruled: “We have come to the conclusion that there are no grounds for interfering with the sentencing process that took place.”

Gillespie, from Tamneymore Park, had been charged with attempted murder but found not guilty by a jury.

He was convicted of possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life.

Gillespie pleaded guilty to other offences including arson to the man’s car, making threats to kill and dangerous driving in connection with two incidents in June and July 2018.

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Previous courts heard he had been involved in an affair with a woman which ended earlier that year.

When she started another relationship Gillespie set fire to her new partner’s car.

He also daubed graffiti on the wall accusing the man of being a drug dealer and posted a bullet through the letter box accompanied by a letter stating ‘next one is for your head’.

A month later, Gillespie collided with the victim’s car as he returned from work and fired a shotgun.

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He then ‘tailgated’ the other man at speed and discharged a second shot, according to the prosecution.

In August 2022 Gillespie received a 12-year term, with half to be served in custody and half on licence, following a trial at Derry Crown Court.

The sentencing judge described his actions as ‘deliberate and premeditated’, with the intention of adversely affecting the new relationship.

Defence counsel claimed that process involved an error of law which resulted in a manifestly excessive term being imposed.

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Ciaran Mallon KC argued it had been wrong to determine Gillespie was not entitled to any credit, despite entering late guilty pleas to most charges.

However, Lord Justice McCloskey said the victim still had to endure the stress of giving evidence due to ‘choices made on behalf of the appellant at the trial stage’.

He confirmed: “The appeal must be refused (and) we affirm the sentence imposed.”