The student that Ashley Cole shot with an air rifle in a 2011 Chelsea training ground accident “was laughing” after the incident, according to a report.
Reports at the time said Cole was ‘larking about’ with a .22 calibre air rifle when he accidentally shot student Tom Cowan, who was at Chelsea on a placement from Loughborough University as part of his degree in sport and exercise science.
Cole formally apologised to Cowan and was apparently ‘given a severe dressing down’ by the Chelsea hierarchy over the incident.
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The Athletic have looked back at the incident and revealed:
‘The air rifle, which can be legally bought in the UK, was actually a gift from a footballer and close friend playing for another Premier League club. They had it sent to Cole months before.
‘It was delivered to the training ground and no-one knew what was in the package, not even Cole, because the present was a surprise. Squad members are sent parcels and letters all the time and it is obviously not the club’s policy to open or check their personal mail.
‘On the day of the incident, it was actually one of Cole’s Chelsea team-mates who saw a large box that was sitting right at the back of the left-back’s locker and questioned what was inside. The individual was also the one who took the case out and handled the gun initially. Sources suggest it looked so unblemished, that they’re not sure Cole had ever unwrapped it.’
The News of the World reported at the time that ‘Tom screamed as this lead pellet hit him in the side. He was bleeding profusely. He was in agony.’
But sources have told The Athletic that what they saw was a lot less sensational than that. An insider said: “As Ashley held the gun he thought there was nothing (no ammunition) in it.
“But there was and it accidentally went off in his hand. It’s not like he was going around shooting at people.
“Unfortunately the guy was hit, but he wasn’t badly hurt. He was laughing about it. He was a nice kid. It was just an unfortunate situation.”
With another source backing up that version of events, they told The Athletic: “Cole was just sitting there when he picked the gun up and it went off. The wound to the intern was absolutely minimal. It was an accident.”