Sheffield gunman wins appeal over length of jail term

Stuart Hirst.
Stuart Hirst.
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A gunman who shot a New Year’s Eve party-goer on a night of mayhem in Sheffield has won a reduction in his prison sentence.

Stuart Martin Hirst, aged 28, of Algar Drive, Arbourthorne, was jailed for 17 years after admitting three counts of possessing a firearm and one of inflicting grievous bodily harm with intent.

Appeal Court judge Mr Justice Phillips described the thug as a ‘runner’ for Sheffield drugs baron Raymond Swindells, and someone who did his ‘dirty work’.

He shot his 18-year-old victim, Thomas Ryan, in the stomach at a Sheffield party as he, Swindells and two others tried to resolve a drugs debt.

Swindells, of Shortbrook Drive, Westfield, was owed £1,200 by one of his former dealers, who had fled Sheffield.

But on New Year’s Eve 2012 he returned to Halfway and Swindells found out and was determined to track him down.

In the hunt that followed, Swindells stabbed two men - Nigel Sills and Ryan Wragg - in two separate incidents, while Hirst pulled out a shotgun at a New Year’s Eve party and ‘peppered’ Thomas Ryan with pellets.

Mr Ryan survived the gun attack but spent a week in hospital recovering.

Hirst’s sentence was reduced from 17 years to 15, with judges describing the original tariff as ‘manifestly excessive’.

Jailing the gang last November, Judge Simon Lawler QC said: “This was a series of very violent events against a background of drugs enforcement.

“This case is characterised by the carrying of knives and a shotgun. All were used quite deliberately to cause injuries to three men.

“There were threats and there was behaviour which terrorised innocent women and children.”

Swindells was jailed for 10 years for possessing a firearm with intent and affray.