CHARLES GRAHAM: A new level of fear on the borough’s streets

Police at the scene of one of the shootings
Police at the scene of one of the shootings

What terrifying times these are for the residents of certain Wigan communities.

In all my years of reporting on crime in the borough, I have never encountered such a violent and frightening series of incidents as those which have been peppering the map along a line roughly described by the A58 between Ashton and Abram.

The latest involved reports of a firebomb attack and shots fired at the Bryn Hall pub on Bolton Road (right).

At the time of writing, whoever was responsible for that Godfather-type attack remains at large.

Furthermore police say that it is not being linked to an incident the other day on Bickershaw Lane in which a man suffered horrific gunshot wounds to his hand and arm in a drive-by shooting.

In other words there are at least two different criminal elements at work which is even more worrying.

Whether any of this has anything to do with the murder of 21-year-old Billy Livesley last December just feet away from the shooting of the 54-year-old is concerned, no-one is saying.

Rumours and unsubstatiated claims abound on social media. Some suggest the gunning down of a man at an Ashton car wash (Bolton Road again) four years ago has something to do with the current horrors.

Gun crime has been a thankful rarity in Wigan until just recently, but things have suddenly become very trigger-happy.

It was gratifying to learn that a woman shot twice in the back on Redland Court (just off Bolton Road) has been well enough to be discharged from hospital. Given the circumstances, she is lucky to have escaped with her life.

It creates an extra level of fear to think that she perhaps wasn’t the intended target and was the unfortunate victim of indiscriminate fire.

Police have gone so far as to say the victim of the Bickershaw Lane shooting did indeed appear to have been targeted. But there were children nearby - it was coming-home-from-school time when this would-be assassination took place - and it could only be pure good fortunate that young innocents were not caught in the cross fire.

Whether drugs, revenge, money or some other motivation lies behind all or some of these crimes, only successful police investigations will tell. In the meantime locals really have to be on their guard because there’s a dreadful feeling that we’ve not seen the last of the violence.