Two years ago, the tranquil Norfolk village of Shotesham hit the world’s headlines for all the wrong reasons when crazed gunman Barry Mather ran amok, killing five people and injuring 14 more. And residents say that their nightmare still goes on, because the tragedy has made them into a close-knit community for the first time.
It’s been ghastly,’ said Victoria Broadley, 45, wife of one of eleven consultants from the Norfolk & Norwich General Hospital that live in the village. ‘As if being unable to sell our barn conversion because of all the publicity wasn’t bad enough, now everyone wants to be friends with us.’
‘Just as I got back from getting my legs waxed in Norwich, that bitch Laura Walker runs up to me sobbing “Thank God you’re all right”, like she cared about anything more than turning up at the school in a more expensive designer dress than me, then the place is crawling with press asking me over and over if we were a close-knit community. I told them “No, you idiots, I know three other people by sight and that’s plenty” but they didn’t print it.’
On the morning of 24 May 2009, Mather, who was embittered by a nasty divorce and the failure of his painting and decorating business, first shot dead his ex-wife Julie and her new boyfriend in their council house. He then walked around the lanes of Shotesham screaming abuse and firing randomly as other local residents began the school run.
The casualty list might have been higher but for three of the resident doctors jumping into their cars and driving straight at him. Startled, Mather got onto his motorbike and drove away, later taking his own life in a country lane. One of the three, Crispin Brownlee, is still haunted by the consequences of his actions, not least the damage to his Morgan.
‘First I have to miss a round of golf tending to dying bumpkins, then come the invites to peoples’ houses and some wretched Community Association,’ Brownlee said. ‘It’s true what they say, a tragedy teaches you what’s really important in life. I just pray that one day we can put all this behind us and get back to the icily polite one-upmanship that used to make this such a nice place to live.’