Surrey police have visited Chelsea’s training ground in Cobham as part of their investigation into the accidental shooting of a 21-year-old student by Ashley Cole.
Neither Cole nor Tom Cowan, who is on a year’s placement from Loughborough University with Chelsea’s sports science department, have yet been interviewed by the police following the incident in one of the dressing rooms.
The police contacted Chelsea on Monday morning after reports emerged on Sunday that Cole had fired an air rifle at Cowan, who needed medical treatment for the wound caused by a lead pellet which was fired at him from just five feet.
Officers wanted to ascertain who was responsible for the training ground and are believed to have travelled to the facility on Tuesday. No decision has been taken on whether Cole could face charges.
A police spokesman said: “We have made contact with the club and inquiries are ongoing. Nothing has been finalised yet.”
No formal complaint has been made following the incident and it remains unlikely that Cole will be charged. The police could investigate if any offence has taken place under the Firearms Act 1968 or Offence Against the Person Act 1861.
With regards to air rifles, Home Office guidelines state: “it is an offence for any person shooting on private land, regardless of age, to use an air weapon for firing a pellet beyond the boundaries of the premises”.
The incident took place in the training ground, therefore on private property, and the rifle was not fired in a public place.
Neither Cole, Cowan nor Chelsea reported the incident which happened on Sunday February 20.
Cole is understood to have been disciplined for the incident — which could amount to a two-week fine, the equivalent of £250,000 — although Chelsea are refusing to reveal the details.
The 30-year-old has apologised privately to Cowan but has not, as yet, issued a public apology. It may well be that he is waiting for the police to conclude investigations.
Despite the outcry sources close to Cole have claimed that the incident has been blown out of all proportion — a view privately shared by some at Chelsea — that the injuries sustained by Cowan have been exaggerated and even that the weapon did not belong to the player.
It is understood, however, that Cole was responsible for bringing the .22 rifle into the training ground with manager Carlo Ancelotti confirming that the player will face sanctions for the accident and “appropriate action” had been taken.
However, manager Carlo Ancelotti, who said he had no idea the player had brought the gun into the training ground, has insisted he has not considered sacking Cole for the offence.
“We have to support him,” he said. “It would be very different if he had not said sorry. We are really disappointed for the guy who was involved and was a victim of this.”
Ancelotti will address the media again today ahead of Monday’s Premier League match away to Blackpool.
Hit 'Em Up, Ashley