A GRIEVING man whose wife died from hospital superbug MRSA snapped during a Bonfire Night row and started shooting at his neighbours.
Michael O’Leary, 50, sent pellets “whizzing past the ears” of family and friends after fireworks hit the roof of his house during a garden party.
O’Leary, of Mirfield, pleaded guilty at Leeds Crown Court to possession of a firearm with intent to cause fear of the use of violence and threatening to destroy or damage property.
Richard Mansell, defending, said: “One can only imagine the fear of the people attending this party as they did.
“Firstly when they saw the man and then when they heard the pellets quite literally whizzing past their ears.”
But he was spared jail by a judge at Leeds Crown Court who heard how O’Leary was devastated by the death of his wife from a hospital superbug.
Just 11 days before the incident on Bonfire Night last year, his wife died in a West Yorkshire hospital after contracting MRSA.
She had only been admitted for a minor ankle injury.
The court heard how around 20 children and adults were enjoying the party on November 5 when O’Leary came out of his house complaining that fireworks had hit his roof.
James Lake, prosecuting, described how O’Leary swore at the group and threatened to burn their house down before going back inside.
But then, 15 minutes later, O’Leary returned to the doorway holding an air rifle.
Mr Lake said shots were heard and people fled in fear as the shots flew overhead.
Police went to O’Leary’s house to find him drunk and in possession of a 5.5 calibre air rifle and ammunition.
O’Leary told the officers: “I told them to stop using the fireworks and I gave them a warning.
“I only fired at the tree and I have done nothing wrong.”
Mr Mansell told the court how O’Leary had a history of problems with drink and drugs and had turned to alcohol in despair when his wife had died so suddenly.
Mr Mansell said: “His wife seemed perfectly fit from a routine ankle operation when it appears she was one of an increasingly unlucky number of people to contract MRSA while in hospital.”
The barrister asked recorder Jonathan Gibson to consider a community penalty instead of a jail term so Mr O’Leary could get help for his personal problems.
He was given a 12-month jail term, suspended for two years.