South Yorkshire pensioner could lose sight in one eye after being shot with a paintball gun

Paul Thompson - Picture: SWNS
Paul Thompson - Picture: SWNS

A pensioner could lose the sight in one eye after a peaceful protest was thrown into chaos by a masked thug - who shot him in the face with a paintball gun.

Paul Thompson, 70, was demonstrating with his neighbours about the filthy conditions caused by two nearby industrial plants when he was shot in the eye.

Paul Thompson - Picture: SWNS

Paul Thompson - Picture: SWNS

The retired lorry driver said: "There was a group of us protesting about the flies and smell coming from the companies nearby when a chap on a big quad bike turned up.

"He pulled out a gun and started to fire into us. I got hit in the eye and arm and other people got hit too.

"He was just shooting - people's cars were hit and houses too. Then he sped off.

"He shot at us from about 15 feet away at the most, just on the other side of the road.

"The pellets go so fast, they can cause a lot of damage when they're fired from that close."

The disquiet on the Bankwood estate in Doncaster, South Yorks., has been rumbling on for two years.

Residents of two streets claim they are inundated with thousands of flies year round.

They are accusing the nearby Attero recycling plant and the scrap metal processing and recycling company Morris Metals of attracting the swarms.

As well as the flies, residents claim the smell from the two sites has made life unbearable.

Protester Carol Ingles, 69, explained: "We get around 125 lorries down this street a day.

"The thing is they don't come when we protest - someone must be tipping them off.

"They're planning on expanding the metal plant to take 200,000 tons of waste."

In two years of demonstrations this is the first time that violence has erupted.

Speaking from hospital, Paul said: "He [the shooter] was all dressed in black on a big quad bike, and he had a balaclava on too so we couldn't tell who it was.

"My neighbours called an ambulance and the police straight away and they took me to the hospital.

"My eye's really painful obviously and they're just waiting to see what they can do with it.

At the time of speaking seventy-year-old Paul was waiting to be seen by an eye surgeon at Doncaster Royal Infirmary.

Gloria Homer, sister-in-law of Paul, witnessed the shooting.

"It looked and sounded like a real gun to be honest," she said.

"He just drove up and pulled it out and I thought it was real. I don't know what a real gun sounds like but the shots were so loud too.

"It was only when we saw the paint splatters that we knew what it was. There was paint in my hair and all over everyone else too.

"We turned around and my brother-in-law was bleeding from the eye and really hurt his arm too."

Gloria lives about a mile away from the scene of the shooting, but claims that even she is starting to be inundated with flies from the two sites.

"It's getting ridiculous now with all of the flies. Even I'm getting them and I live about a mile away.

"It gets so you can't use your garden t all, and the local DIY shop keeps selling out of those sticky fly catchers - which aren't nice to have hanging up anyway.

"Paul and his wife have lived there for about 50 years now, but the last two years have been miserable for them."

Police attended the scene after Paul was taken away to hospital and are now investigating the incident.