A low-level drug dealer shot in the back was just millimetres from death after the bullet narrowly missed his heart and lodged in his sternum, a court in Truro has been told.

Another man in the property was hit five times on the head with a hammer, although more by luck than design he was not seriously injured.

Three men have appeared at Truro Crown Court for the start of their trial for attempted murder following the shooting at Drump Road on July 6 last year.

Gavin Smale, aged 43, of Fore Street, Redruth, Paul Amoah, aged 38, of No Fixed Abode, Camborne and Lee Mitchell, aged 28, of Tresaderns Road, Redruth are each charged under joint enterprise with one count of attempted murder, two counts of wounding with intent, one count of unlawful wounding and one count of aggravated burglary with weapons. They have pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The jury heard that on July 6 last year at around 2.30pm a man called Terry Madden heard knocking at the front door of the property, which is at the side of the house on Cardew Road.

When he looked through the peep hole he couldn’t see anybody there but then he heard knocking from the back door.

When he went to the back door he could see through the frosted glass the shapes of several figures, one of whom was holding a handgun.

He ran back through the house to the lounge where Lithuanian man Yarislav Divorkis, commonly known as Yarik, was sleeping on the sofa.

“He told him there were people at the back door with a gun,” said prosecution barrister Gregory Gordon. “Whilst Yarik got up the defendants broke through the lower panel of the back door.

“Two men wearing balaclavas were coming through and Yarik grabbed an air rifle he had but it wasn’t loaded and he pointed it making it look like he was defending himself.

“But Paul Amoah wasn’t fooled and said through the broken door ‘Do you wanna to see a real gun’ and as Yarik tried to run back into the property Paul Amoah broke through the back door and fired at Yarik hitting him in the back. He fired the loaded handgun into his back whilst he was running away. It was clearly attempted murder.”

He said Yarik tried to run up the stairs but collapsed at the bottom and lost consciousness for some time.

Terry Madden ran upstairs trying to get away but Lee Mitchell caught up with him and hit him five times on the head with a hammer.

“Luckily Mr Madden’s injuries were not that serious, more by luck that judgement,” said Mr Gordon.

Another man Luke Hocking was asleep upstairs and when he heard the commotion downstairs he barricaded himself in his room but two men broke in demanding to know where the safe was.

Yarik gained consciousness to being kicked repeatedly and punched in the face with the men shouting ‘Where’s the safe? Where’s the drugs?’.

He pointed them to a small black safe and they opened it and took several hundreds of pounds in cash and Yarik’s passport.

All throughout this Smale remained at the back door keeping a look-out.

The men left together and returned to the blue Mini they had arrived in which was parked nearby and drove away. Amoah had borrowed the car from a friend.

After the men left, at first Yarik refused to get an ambulance but it wasn’t until later that evening that a builder friend of Madden’s, who came round to fix the door, saw the state of Yarik’s injuries and said he needed to go to hospital.

He was taken to Royal Cornwall Hospital where he was told he was lucky to be alive. The bullet went through his back and hit the lower rib cage and passed his heart through his lung which collapsed and then lodged in his sternum.

The consultant who treated Yarik said that the bullet had missed his heart ventricle by two millimetres.

“He missed being killed by a couple of millimetres,” said Mr Gordon. “If it had struck his heart he would have been dead. He’s lucky to be alive.”

The bullet is still there and cannot be removed, the jury was told.

At first Yarik told police the robbery was to do with gold which he bought and sold. He also blamed someone called Black Shane, although he was in prison at the time of the robbery.

He later changed his story and said the robbery was about drugs as he was a low level dealer.

All three men were later located by police at nearby addresses and arrested by armed police.

The trial continues.