Community service for St John’s Wood shotgun tycoon
Millionaire businessman fired gun at neighbour’s house before texting them: ‘All quiet now’
One of Britain’s richest men was spared jail on Monday for blasting his St John’s Wood neighbours’ burglar alarm with a shotgun to stop it ringing.
Peter Shalson, 54, of Hamilton Terrace, bombarded Norman and Cindy Dawood with text messages complaining about the alarm before shooting at it from the side of the house, smashing his way inside and trying to dismantle it by hand.
The business tycoon, said to be worth around �175million, then went back to his mansion and sent the victims, who had been away visiting relatives, a further message stating: “All quiet now”.
Shalson, who made his fortune selling his coat hanger and packaging business, admitted having a shotgun with intent to commit criminal damage and damaging property and was given a 12-month community order with 200 hours of unpaid work.
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Among the spectators in the court’s public gallery was Patricia Bailey, a 61-year-old millionaire who was given an ASBO in 2009 for her constant harassment of her Marylebone neighbours.
As Shalson left the dock, she approached him and shook his hand, telling him: “God bless you.”
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Passing sentence at Southwark Crown Court, Judge John Price told Shalson: “It was an attack on somebody’s home and it has caused enormous distress to the family.
“They were away from home, and you knew that they were not there, but they came back and found damage to the house.
“They were very upset, and their children were upset, and my first duty is to them and I have full sympathy towards them.”
Roger Smart, prosecuting, said the Dawoods’ children had been scared by the attack and were still afraid the defendant would return to their home.
The court heard that, on the night of January 2, 2010, Shalson sent his neighbours a series of text messages telling them their alarm was going off, eventually causing them to drive back to London.
When they arrived in the early hours the following morning, they found someone had broken into their house, with Shalson at first telling police he could be able to help identify the intruder, before eventually admitting it had been him.
After initially complaining that officers had “no authority to go through my f***ing house”, he agreed to help the investigation. Police seized his collection of 10 shotguns and 7,500 rounds of cartridges from a gun cabinet in the garage.
Mark Haslam, representing him in court, said Shalson had been “on the verge of a nervous breakdown” at the time of the incident and the day after flew to Austria for treatment for stress.
He added there had been an ongoing dispute between the Dawoods and the Shalsons over disruption caused by major ongoing refurbishments at their house.
He said Shalson was moving away from his Hamilton Terrace home today and his conviction had damaged many of his business relations and put his marriage under strain.
“Much has been written about the case, which may give you the impression that Peter Shalson remains a very wealthy man, an arrogant man who thinks he is above the law, and was responding to a one-off, trivial incident,” he said. “That is far removed from the facts of this case.”
He added Mrs Shalson had been ill at the time of the incident and was prevented from sleeping by the Dawoods’ alarm.
After hearing defence submissions about Shalson’s charity work and support for the London Academy school, Judge Price added: “You are an exceptional man. You started with no great educational abilities or academic qualifications, you worked hard, made a lot of money and put a lot of it back into various charities. I hope those you have helped can continue to rely on you for assistance.”