A disgruntled litigant has been sentenced to 28 years in jail for the murder of Wiltshire solicitor Jim Ward.

Michael Chudley, 63, shot Ward with a sawn-off shotgun on 2 July last year at the MGW Law building in Devizes.

Chudley had threatened the firm’s secretary unless she took him to Ward’s office, before shooting the solicitor in the head and walking calmly back out to his car. The victim’s wife, Nicky, was in the building at the time of the attack.

Ward (pictured), 58, had represented a client who was involved in a protracted legal dispute with Chudley regarding building work. Ward died from head injuries in hospital three weeks after the attack.

DCI Ian Saunders, from Wiltshire police, said Chudley had a history of being an angry, paranoid and litigious man who blamed Ward when he lost the case.

The bankrupt businessman denied murder but admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. He was this week found guilty by a jury at Salisbury Crown Court.

In a statement, the family of Ward said: ‘We, Jim's family, have always known that no verdict could ever bring him back. ‘However, we are reassured by the judgment today, which shows that the justice system in this country works well.

‘Jim was a kind honest man and the most wonderful loving husband and father. He was an exceptional person and will forever be in our thoughts.’

Ward, a father of three, helped to found Wiltshire firm Morris Goddard & Ward more than 20 years ago.