A Northampton man who opened fire on his neighbours with an illegally held assault rifle has claimed that he was suffering a flashback to his time in Afghanistan and thought that he was defending himself against the Taliban. According to thirty four year old Joe Crapster, his lethal flashback was triggered by his next door neighbours’ fireworks. “I didn’t realise that it was Guy Fawkes night – it’s easy to lose track of time for combat veterans who, like me, are still suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD),” the former Catering Corps soldier – who was given a dishonourable discharge after being caught urinating in the soup about to be served to his commanding officer – told his local newspaper. “As soon as those explosions started I was back in Afghanistan – it was pure reflex that I pried up the floorboards in the spare room and pulled up that AK-47 I had stashed there, jumped over the fence and started firing.” Panic ensued as Crapster sprayed bullets into his neighbour’s firework party, with terrified children diving for cover behind plant pots and garden gnomes. “He was shouting abuse and firing at anything which moved – he was clearly insane,” recalled James Collick, a guest at the party, who lost a kidney and six feet of intestine after being shot twice in the abdomen during the attack. “It was completely unprovoked – the kids had only just lit up some sparklers – we hadn’t even started on the big and noisy stuff!” Crapster’s frenzied assault only ceased after he was disarmed by one of the guests, using a wheelbarrow as a shield whilst his eleven year old daughter gave him covering fire with firework rockets from the cover of the compost heap.

Other residents of the street have dismissed Crapster’s claims of suffering from PTSD, alleging that the attack was the culmination of a long-running feud between the ex-serviceman and his next door neighbours. “To be frank, he’s a bloody nutter – that’s why they kicked out of the army,” opined seventy two year old Stan Pickless, who lives opposite Crapster. “He was always shouting abuse over the fence and making threats. The slightest thing would set him of: next door’s kids playing in the garden, their father mowing the lawn – they were apparently all part of a conspiracy to drive him over the edge with excessive noise. Bloody nutter!” Local residents have also expressed concern that the former soldier had access to an automatic weapon. According to Crapster the assault rifle was a souvenir that he had brought back from Afghanistan. “I had no idea that it still worked – I thought that it had been deactivated,” he asserted. “As for the bullets – I’ve no idea where they came from.” Despite having killed three people (one of them a child) and seriously wounded seven others, Crapster has been given bail by the police and is currently receiving counselling for his war trauma at local taxpayers expense. “Nobody is denying that he’s made a serious mistake, but it’s important that we support our war veterans – just imagine the terrible trauma he’s suffered as the result of his trauma-driven actions,” said a spokesperson for the British Legion. “People have to understand that criminal behaviour is an inevitable consequence of putting yourself on the line for your country. We owe these boys for keeping us safe, even when they’re randomly using deadly force against us. Just remember, the people he hurt are really collateral damage of the war on terror which lads like Joe bravely fought on our behalf – don’t blame him, blame Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, Tony Blair and George Bush. They’re the bastards responsible for it all!”

In the wake of Crapster’s PTSD defence for his actions, a Southall telecoms engineer has claimed that when he violently attacked a group of trick or treaters who knocked on his door at Halloween, he was having a traumatic flashback to the time that he was attacked by a group of monsters whilst on holiday in Transylvania. “It was an horrendous experience, first of all this group of vampire women came in through my hotel room window and started biting me,” Brian Shatz explained to his local newspaper, recalling the traumatic events which resulted in the Halloween incident. “They seemed to put me under some kind of spell – next thing I knew I was in the dungeon of a castle with some mad scientist telling me he wanted my brain!” Shatz claimed to have escaped the dungeon when a fellow inmate turned into a werewolf and attacked the vampire women. “Even when I was out of there, I found myself being chased by the Frankenstein monster,” he recalled. “It followed me all the way back to the town square, where I had a street brawl with it – the local police had to step in and break it up.”

With regard to the recent attack – which left an adult and a child seriously injured and several other children severely traumatised – Shatz claims that he had forgotten it was Halloween on account of having been completely bladdered the night before. “When I opened the door to see those ghouls stood there, it all came back to me,” he claimed. “Is it any wonder that I chased them into the street with sharpened sticks and crucifixes? I’m really sorry it happened, but they were just collateral damage of the never-ending conflict of good and evil.” When police searched Shatz’s house following the incident, they found sharpened pieces of wood in every room, even beside his bed and crucifixes on every wall. “If that business in Romania taught me anything, it was that you need to be prepared for supernatural attacks,” he explained to the newspaper. “My only regret is that I didn’t have any silver bullets for werewolves – not that I had a gun to fire them from, obviously. I did try making some silver air gun pellets and tried firing them from my air pistol, but they wouldn’t even break the skin when I tested them against my mate one night after a few pints.”

The adult supervising the group of trick or treating children, who was dressed as Dracula, was impaled on a wooden stake during Shatz’s attack, during which he also attempted to stab an eleven year old dressed as a werewolf with a silver teaspoon. Several other children, dressed variously as cowboys, spacemen and Lady Gaga had crucifixes waved at them in a menacing fashion. “He was clearly off his face on drugs,” a witness told the police. “He was running at these kids shrieking about how they weren’t going to get his blood, or his brain!” Police have rejected Shatz’s flashback defence, dismissing it as ‘utterly ludicrous’. Romanian police, meanwhile, have confirmed that three years ago Shatz was arrested following a drunken fight with a local pimp, after he had refused to pay two prostitutes who had taken him to a local S&M parlour.