Man who shot him had home repossessed
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The property developer arrested on suspicion of attempting to murder a solicitor is a Ferrari-driving millionaire, it has emerged.
Businessman Michael Chudleigh, 62, was arrested on Monday in his home village of Rowde, Wiltshire, 35 minutes after a gunman walked into a solicitor's office and shot a man in the face.
Solicitor James Ward, 59, is fighting for his life after being blasted in the head, as partner Nicola Morris - who also works at his firm - waits in a bedside vigil.
It is believed the victim was shot at his desk – with stray bullets smashing nearby windows.
Mr Chudleigh, who runs Kingfisher Builders, is listed as living at a sprawling converted farm house with former business partner Francine Whale.
But it is thought he was evicted and the property repossessed by the mortgage company in April.
It also emerged that Mr Chudleigh had previously admitted a passionate fling after getting involved in a bitter love triangle.
He had a nine year affair with married blonde Rachel Leigh and admitted to romping in woods behind her house while her husband David was at work.
But it ended when she began having another relationship in 2004.
The builder, who showered his married lover with over £100,000 worth of gifts including a new Ferrari, stormed round to her address and confronted Rachel and her husband.
A window was smashed, police were called and he ended up in a tussle with an officer.
He was later found not guilty of criminal damage, assaulting a police officer and a public order offence, following a trial in 2007.
Speaking after the case, Mr Chudleigh said: 'Rachel was the love of my life.
'I left my former partner Carol for her. I left my house for her. I left everything for her - but she has left me in bits.
'I even proposed to her in Winchester Cathedral and gave her an £8,000 sapphire engagement ring, which was a copy of Princess Diana's engagement ring.
'But all my dreams are shattered. I hate her guts now, she is a dreadful woman and she has left me in pieces.'
In an unrelated incident the property developer and Francine were tied up by two masked men in October 2009 in a shotgun robbery on their home. The robbers made off with £50,000 worth of jewellery.
Speaking after the ordeal Mr Chudleigh said: 'They burst into our kitchen pointing a shotgun at us and made us lie on the floor.
'We were bound head and foot and they threatened to kill me if I did not tell them where the money was.
'It was pretty horrendous. Mrs Whale has gone to pieces and she wants to barricade the door every night.'
Today, Mr Ward was described by neighbours as a 'lovely man' who 'wouldn't hurt a fly'.
A neighbour at Mr Ward's large red-brick farm house in Westbury, Wilts., who did not want to be named, said the solicitor would do anything for anybody.
He said: 'He is just such a lovely man. The whole family is lovely. It is such a shock this has happened - he wouldn't hurt a fly.
'It's the type of thing you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy - I can't think of why anybody would have done this.
'We have all been praying for him at the local village church and we hope that he gets better - you have to have faith.'
Morris, Goddard and Ward was set up in 1988, specialising in matrimonial and family law, personal injury, general legal claims and residential conveyancing.
James Ward is listed as the principal solicitor at the practice. His partner Nicola Morris is listed as consultant solicitor.
The neighbour said Mr Ward had three children - all of whom had grown up and left school
A window on the first floor of the building, which houses another legal firm, was smashed in the shooting.
The community had been left 'understandably shocked by the events and we appreciate their co-operation', a police spokeswoman said.
A number of roads around the Market Place in Devizes were cordoned off by police, who said they would remain closed while its major crime investigation team examined the scene
Simon Fisher, deputy town clerk at Devizes Town Council, said: ‘Some of us heard a bang. It sounded like a car backfiring or a car bumping into another car.
‘One of our staff saw a male being carried out on a stretcher.'
Mr Chudleigh had a nine year affair with married blonde Rachel Leigh, right, and admitted to romping in woods behind her house while her husband David was at work
A police spokesman said: ‘A male walked into the offices of Morris, Goddard and Ward, armed with a weapon, and shot a male.
‘The offender drove off in a car but was arrested at approximately 3.35pm without a struggle by armed officers in Rowde.
‘He is now in custody at Melksham Police Station. We recovered a weapon which we believe was used in the incident.
Great Western Ambulance Service was at the scene six minutes after the 999 call.
A spokesman said: 'We received a 999 call at 2.58pm reporting a man had been injured in an incident involving a firearm in office premises in St John's Street, Devizes.
'A paramedic in a rapid-response vehicle was on scene at 3.04pm, backed up by other resources, including ambulance crew, doctor, air ambulance and duty officers to liaise with other emergency services.
'The patient sustained serious, life-threatening injuries.'
The centre of the town was closed as firearms officers and an ambulance raced to the scene. Locals described hearing a loud bang - sounding like a car backfiring.
Colin Garrett, manager of Edwin Giddings, in St John’s Street, said: ’It’s a bit of a shock - it’s not the sort of thing you would expect here. Details are sketchy but apparently someone walked in with a shotgun and he discharged it.
‘I’m not sure if he was the intended target or if they were trying to diffuse the situation. Unfortunately solicitors deal with stressful situations which they are trying to sort out. I believe the man was known to them because he was arrested quickly.
‘The police are not allowing anyone near the scene as they are gathering evidence. Apparently the ambulance taking the injured person was given a police escort.’