An innocent passer-by’s life was saved by his shopping bag full of Pepsi Max cans when he was shot in the leg with a shotgun, a court heard.
The 66-year-old man survived because the cans bore the brunt of the blast but he still needed surgery to remove 30 pellets from his leg.
The man was shot by Liam Cameron, 26, who had been trying to shoot someone else.
Cameron was described by a judge as “a gangster with a gun” as he was jailed for firing at the man’s leg in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, in November last year.
He intended to fire at a 31-year-old man after pulling the gun from his waistband and pointing it at his face down an alleyway.
Shortly before the shooting, Cameron had intimidated his intended target by cycling outside a sandwich shop after seeing him inside.
The man saw Cameron heading down the alleyway and he left the shop to confront him.
But as the confrontation took place, the passer-by was walking past the alleyway when he was shot in his leg and he fell to the floor.
His injuries were so severe that he required surgery after 30 pellets were lodged at the bottom of his leg and only one could be safely removed.
The pellets hit the shopping bag the man was carrying and caused cans of Pepsi Max explode.
Police say the bag likely saved the man’s life as it bore the brunt of the blast.
The shooting took place when a large number of people, including two children, were in the area at the time.
Cops flooded the scene and the town centre was cordoned off while paramedics treated the victim and he was taken to hospital.
Cameron had immediately fled on his bike and hid from police at his girlfriend’s home in nearby Bromborough. He was arrested by officers the following day.
Cameron, of Ellesmere Port, was sentenced to life at Chester Crown Court on Wednesday after pleading guilty at an earlier hearing.
He will serve a minimum of 15 years for two counts of grievous bodily harm with intent and possessing a firearm with intent to cause fear or violence.
He was also charged with being concerned in the supply of class A drugs.
He will be eligible for parole after serving seven years and six months in prison.
Sentencing Cameron, Judge Everett described him as a “gangster with a gun”.
Detective Inspector Nigel Parr, of Cheshire Police, said: “Cameron intended to cause serious harm to his target but missed and injured an innocent passer-by instead.
“The injuries the victim sustained were extremely serious and he will live with the consequences of that for the rest of his life.
“It is likely that the shopping the man was carrying helped save him from greater harm as it bore the brunt of the blast before hitting his leg.
“Cameron fired his weapon, without a thought for the people in the area and left the town in fear. His actions were nothing short of reckless and dangerous.
“Although both men will always be reminded of what happened that day, it is perhaps pure luck that no-one suffered life-threatening injuries or worse, lost their life.
“I want to thank everyone who played a part in ensuring a dangerous man has been taken off the streets and putting him behind bars for a very long time.”
David Keane, Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire, said: “This incident terrified the local community and my thoughts are with the man who was injured.
“I want to take this opportunity to praise all the officers involved in catching Cameron and ensuring justice was served for both men and the wider community.”