WAR hero Colin Tattersdale this week told how he used a starting pistol to defend his home against two villainous brothers who he claims threatened to kill him over the intercom.
One of the thugs even publicly declared his thirst for revenge and his determination to seek it whilst giving evidence in open court!
The 51-year-old ex-Special Forces soldier - who landed in Knutsford Crown Court dock as a result of a violent doorstep altercation with two complete strangers - was unanimously cleared of a firearms offence at the end of a four day trial.
A jury also acquitted him of assault after they heard the twice-decorated soldier had been sitting in his armchair fixing a starting pistol when trouble turned up at his front door.
Divorced dad-of-two Colin, who denied possessing a fake firearm with intent to cause fear and unlawful wounding, is now asking: "Why was I ever charged?"
He said in an exclusive interview: "All I was doing was protecting my own property. Those animals should have been in the dock - not me.
"In the army you expect trouble but you don't expect it on your own doorstep."
Now Colin, who claims he has been driven out of Macclesfield by the two notorious Mason brothers - Lee and Rick - for fear of reprisals is a broken man.
Weary after an 11-month wait for justice with a four-year jail sentence looming over him, he claims he has never felt so traumatised in his life.
The soldier, who has two medals for distinguished service as well as a United Nations commendation, was given a black eye and suffered bruising. He now has a permanent scar from a bite to his hand.
But worse has been the wait for the case to be heard and the fear of reprisal.
He has seen action - one friend shot in the back of the head and a baby blown up by terrorists - in both the Falklands and Northern Ireland.
But now Colin, who used to live at Old Ribbon Mill on Pitt Street, Macclesfield, is in hiding.
He has every reason to be scared.
For astonishingly one of the complainants Lee Mason threatened him in an outburst before the judge and jury during cross examination by David Morton, counsel for the defence.
Lee Mason, who earlier had been told to remove chewing gum from his mouth, said: "What do you expect me to do - stand there like a cat? I wanted revenge.
"I don't care about this court case - I want him (Colin Tattersdale) out on the streets so I can do him myself."
Earlier the jury heard how Colin, who now works as a corporate entertainer running army adventure days, was trying to fix a starting pistol he uses for the job, when a stranger spoke through his intercom asking for someone who he did not know.
The intruder threatened menacingly: "If you don't open the door I will kill you."
The man, Lee Mason, 30, who is known to the police and who has been jailed for assault, was refused entry .
But when Colin heard the front door being kicked he went downstairs; still holding the pistol in his hand.
He told the court: "I know from past experience that the door, if forced, will open quite easily. I had a second to make up my mind whether to barricade myself in and call the police or go down and put my shoulder to the door."
He chose the latter, raced down two flights of stairs - in his socks and reading glasses - and as he pushed intruder Lee Mason out of the opening door he "accidentally fired" the starting pistol.
He said he didn't realise that he had the gun.
Lee Mason said he was grabbed by the collar and something "cold and made of metal" was put to the side of his cheek.
Karl Scholz, counsel for the prosecution, said that the gun was fired once, and a "scrum" ensued which left Lee Mason needing nine stitches to the top and side of his head.
He told the jury: "Both brothers have form as long as your arm and are not the type of people that you would readily invite into your home - but it is not unusual for a villain to be the victim of crime."
And David Morton, counsel for the defence, said: "These thugs come to the doorstep of Colin Tattersdale's piece of England intent on smashing their way into his property.
"They become abusive, menacing with violence, and downright dangerous and he had to quickly make a decision whether to become a victim or simply stand up for himself."
He said: "In my submission it was a situation of life and death and these drunk and nasty thugs brought it upon themselves."
Richard Mason, 27, of Tynedale Close, Macclesfield said that he, his brother Lee and Carl Gilbert - who lived in a neighbouring block of flats had been out drinking all day.
Lee Mason said he pressed the buzzer to what he thought was an acquaintance's flat but it was the wrong address.
He claimed someone answered, was "arrogant and abusive" and claimed they were "going to shoot" him.
This week Colin Tattersdale was counting the cost of that night on March 11 last year.
Twice he has had to move. He lost his business, had to sell his car, and, because of the anxiety, he had become dependant on anti-depressants.
After walking from court with an unblemished record, he asked tearfully: "How can two thugs wreck someone's life and be proud of it? it's going to take me a very long time to get back to normal.
"I have found the whole experience degrading and totally stressful - now I have to deal with leaving the town I love as well as having to abandon all my closest friends - and I don't make new friends easily."