Police praise Tan Hill staff after man found guilty of shooting at remote pub

Richard Bowser.

Police have praised staff at the Tan Hill Inn for their quick-thinking actions to keep customers safe when a gunman went berserk at the remote pub.

Richard Bowser, 46, of Worcester Place, Bishop Auckland, County Durham, subjected his victim and other customers of a popular public house to a terrifying ordeal in July last year.

Bowser travelled to the Tan Hill public house on the afternoon of Friday, 21 July, 2023, with a relative, to spend the night in a camping pod located on the same site.

On the evening this incident took place, the pub was busy, as a live band was playing at the location.

Bowser arrived at the pub at around 4.30pm and booked into a pre-booked camping pod located on the site with a family member.

Just after 8pm he left the pod and entered the bar area and was served at the bar before he spends the evening socialising with other customers.

The trouble begins at around 10.15pm when he is seen at the bar but struggling to make payment. He begins to raise his voice and swear before a member of staff intervenes and asks him to tone down his language. He initially agrees but then continues to swear and struggle to make payment.

At this point he is asked to leave the bar and appears to walk towards the door back to his camping pod, before turning around and shouting abuse to a member of staff. He then has an altercation with another customer before slapping him on the head and pushing him and a female customer in the chest.

He then slaps a female member of staff after she attempts to intervene and pull him away from the other customers. Bowser continues to throw a combination of punches towards another member of staff, striking him in his face and head.

At this stage another customer intervenes and pushes him out of the bar area and into the front porch. Other male customers step in and attempt to restrain Bowser, who is repeatedly hitting one customer, while he is laid on the porch floor. The group manage to pull the customer away from Bowser and to a place of safety. The melee is broken up and Bowser walks out of the front entrance of the pub.

A member of staff locks the door between the bar area and the porch.

A short time later Bowser is seen moving around inside the camping pod where he is staying, appearing to search for something. At the same time, one of the victims, assaulted by Bowser returns to his camper van where a family member sees the injuries he sustained during the incident at the pub.

The family member leaves the camper van and walks to the rear of the pub before attending the camping pod where Bowser is staying. Bowser is immediately aggressive towards him, and the man pretends he was looking for the toilet, to which Bowser replies, ‘Well I’ll take you to the toilet’. The man turns and starts walking towards the toilets, Bowser following right behind him.

Bowser tries to push him inside the toilet and pulls a firearm, pointing it towards the man, he puts the gun in the man’s face and pulls the trigger, but the gun does not fire. The man spots the door to one of the rooms and enters, locking the door behind him. Four shots are then fired resulting in shrapnel coming through the door. The man calls police, informing them to send armed response officers as the offender is still outside.

Bowser walks back to his camping pod, carrying what appears to be a firearm and closes the door. He then leaves the pod again and discharges the firearm into the air, before returning to the pod.

A short time later, Bowser walks to the front entrance of the pub. The front inner door to the bar area is still locked and therefore he is unable to go inside. He returns to his camping pod.

Two quick thinking members of staff move customers from the bar area into the barn before Bowser again, attempts to enter the bar area.

Officers deploy a taser and arrest Bowser before he is charged with attempted murder and remanded in custody before his trial at Teesside Crown Court where,  yesterday he was found guilty of this offence.

Detective Superintendent Fran Naughton, said: “The actions of Bowser that night were absolutely abhorrent and are likely to have a lasting effect on the victim and those who witnessed this horrendous ordeal.

“The other people caught up in this incident were innocently working or enjoying a summer’s evening out with family and friends. No-one should be subjected to fear and violence like they were that evening.

“Praise must go to the brave and quick-thinking members of staff who not only ensured the safety of their customers but have fully supported the police investigation which has resulted in this conviction.

“This was an isolated incident carried out by one man. However, the impact his actions have had on everyone involved that night, and the wider Tan Hill community are lasting. Tan Hill is a popular area in North Yorkshire, and we hope this incident does not stop people enjoying this special location.”

Following the trial, Bowser was convicted of wounding with intent and possession of firearms with intent to endanger life. He had already pleaded guilty to assault and actual bodily harm.

He was found not guilty of two charges of attempted murder.

Richard Bowser is due to appear at Teesside Crown Court at a later date when he is due to be sentenced.