The Tan Hill Inn. Photo: Bob Smith Photography

The Tan Hill Inn. Photo: Bob Smith Photography

A man has been jailed for 19 years after he fired shots at a customer at England’s highest pub.

Richard Bowser, 46, of Worcester Place, Bishop Auckland, County Durham, will also have to serve four years on extended licence.

The incident happened at the Tan Hill Inn in the Yorkshire Dales last year. North Yorkshire Police said visitors to the pub, which stands 528m (1,732ft) above sea level on the Pennine Way, were subjected to a terrifying ordeal.

Bowser was found guilty of wounding with intent and possessing a firearm with intent to endanger life following a trial at Teesside Crown Court.

Police said he travelled to the pub on the afternoon of Friday 21 July to stay in a camping pod at the site, on the northern boundary of the Yorkshire Dales national park, between Arkengarthdale and Brough.

Shortly before 8pm he entered the pub’s bar and spent the evening socialising with other customers, but about 10.15pm he was asked to leave the pub after swearing in an altercation at the bar. As he left to return to his camping pod, he turned round and shouted abuse at a member of staff and became involved in an altercation with a customer, pushing him and a woman customer in the chest.

He became violent towards two members of staff, and another pub customer pushed him into the building’s front porch. He threw more punches before drinkers managed to pull the assaulted customer back into the safety of the pub. Staff then locked the door at the front entrance.

Richard Bowser was jailed after the incident at the Tan Hill Inn. Photo: North Yorkshire Police

Richard Bowser was jailed after the incident at the Tan Hill Inn. Photo: North Yorkshire Police

A short time later, one of the customers whom Bowser had assaulted returned to his camper van outside the pub. A family member, having seen the victim’s injuries, went to the Bowser’s camping pod, where he was met with aggression. The man pretended to be looking for the toilets, at which point Bowser followed him and tried to push him inside, at the same time pulling a firearm, which he put to the man’s face. He pulled the trigger but the gun failed to fire.

The man escaped into one of the rooms and locked the door. Four shots were fired, with shrapnel penetrating the door. The man called police, asking for armed response officers as the shooter was still outside.

Bowser returned to his pod before re-emerging and firing a shot in the air. He attempted to re-enter the pub but found the front door still locked. Staff moved customers from the bar to the barn for their safety.

When officers arrived, they used a Taser in the arrest of the gunman.

Detective Superintendent Fran Naughton 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.”

Following the trial, 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.

Richard Bowser was sentenced at Teesside Crown Court on 24 January.

Det Supt 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.”

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