A garage owner who allegedly fired a shotgun at police as he chased them at 100mph has been cleared of attempted murder because he thought they were burglars.
Richard Baldwin, 35, and his father Bernard, 63, both mechanics, believed they had been burgled by travellers at their property in Leighton Buzzard.
After an alarm went off at their premises late in the evening, the pair found an unmarked white van parked at a roundabout.
Believing the vehicle contained the culprits, a high-speed chase ensued.
It was alleged that Richard Baldwin fired the legally-owned double-barrelled weapon and pointed it at one of the men.
The court heard that a further two shots were fired at the van before the driver managed to reverse and escape.
Inside the van was PC Marcus Myers and PC Russell Mapley, who had been on their way to investigate the alleged burglary on 22 September, but had been told to “stand down” after reports emerged that the farmers had a shotgun.
Jonathan Goldberg QC, defending Richard Baldwin, told Luton Crown Court: “Richard fired out of this particular shotgun three times, twice in the air and once at the front tyre of the van.
“He wasn’t intending to kill or hurt anybody.”
At an earlier hearing, he said: “Section 3 of the Criminal Law Act of 1967 permits a private citizen to use such force as is reasonable in all circumstances to arrest a criminal or suspected criminal.
“Richard and his father genuinely believed they were following the Irish travellers who’d just burgled their garage on Eden Way.
“He intended only to scare the occupants of the van in order to stop and submit to lawful arrest until police arrived.
“It was in fact, a genuine case of mistaken identity.
“Bernard Baldwin denies that he drove dangerously at all.”
Both men were also found not guilty of an alternative charge of attempting to cause grievous bodily harm with intent, possession of a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence and carrying a loaded shotgun in a public place.