‘Truth’ over Ashley Cole shooting Chelsea intern with air rifle finally emerges

Ashley Cole often found himself in the headlines for all the wrong reasons at Chelsea, but nothing was quite as hard to comprehend as the time he accidentally shot a work-experience student at their training ground in February 2011.

It has been a decade since the astonishing and infamous incident played out at Cobham, but the events of 10 years ago still defy belief even today.

Following Chelsea's FA Cup fourth round defeat at home to Everton the day prior, in which Cole of all people missed the winning penalty, Carlo Ancelotti's players were called in for training on Sunday to prepare for a Champions League outing.

The News of the World reported at the time that Cole had arrived at Cobham holding the weapon he accidentally shot 21-year-old student Tom Cowan with by accident and was claimed to be "larking about with it in the changing room".

However, 10 years on from their story, The Athletic have reported contrasting details, suggesting that the air rifle was in fact a gift for Cole that was sent to the training ground.

A fellow Premier League footballer and close friend is now said to have sent him the gun, but no-one knew what was inside the package as it was a surprise for Cole.

Players are sent parcels and letters on a regular basis and it is not the club's policy to open it.

It is believed one of Cole's team-mates pointed out the parcel and questioned what was inside, before taking it out and handling the weapon.

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  • The Athletic claim sources say it was so unblemished that they're not sure Cole had ever unwrapped it.

    Meanwhile, Cowan, who was on a year-long placement at Chelsea as part of his degree in sport and exercise science, was stood a few yards away.

    The student was with Cole as he began to check out the gun himself – and that's when the accident occurred.

    A source 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.”

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    The .22 air rifle Cole accidentally shot Cowan with is not harmless, but the 5.5mm pellets are significantly smaller and weigh a lot less than bullets that are found in proper guns and rifles.

    And Cowan, who was only slightly grazed from the bullets, was reportedly spotted showing off his wound to people in the Canteen saying: "You'll never guess what happened to me…"

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