A disabled farmer trying to kill a fox accidentally shot and wounded two burglars raiding a cannabis farm he did not know existed.
Edward Tibbs, 62, fired his shotgun three times into the dark from the seat of his mobility scooter after being woken in the early hours.
He was aiming at a fox trying to steal geese from an enclosure on his 650-acre arable farm in Crays Hill, Billericay, Essex, but hidden in the darkness were two men trying to break into an outhouse he had rented out and which now contained a secret drugs factory.
They suffered gunshot wounds to their backs and legs and suspicious hospital doctors called in police.
Several hours later, a team of police marksmen, accompanied by a helicopter, stormed into Mr Tibbs’s home and arrested him on suspicion of attempted murder.
The extraordinary story only came to light after investigators told Mr Tibbs he would face no further action.
Mr Tibbs, who suffers multiple sclerosis and neuralgia, said the “horrendous” three-month Essex Police investigation “devastated” his family and business.
Speaking about the shooting, he said: “They must have been 50 or 60 yards away, probably further. If they had been 30 yards off I would have killed them.
“It was pitch black. Black as your hat. There are no lights here at all. I came out of lights, the house, and saw the fox. I know which way they go and saw movement and fired three times at it and that was that.
“I never knew I had hit anyone, no screams or hollering, no nothing. I just came back indoors.”