Man jailed after pointing a gun at a police officer - St Albans

30/04/2013

A man well known in St Albans and London Colney for dressing up in military clothing was jailed for three years today, Tuesday 30 April 2013, after he crouched down on one knee and pointed a gun at a police officer.

Stephen Lawrence, 43, put himself in a crouch position and aimed at PC Ben Mann who had been called out after the police had received 999 calls from members of the pub, reporting that a man was walking the streets with a gun.

The weapon was an imitation Griffin air gun, but it was designed to look like a real AR-15 assault rifle, St Albans Crown Court was told.

Prosecutor Michael Speak said: "The defendant is unemployed and well known in the London Colney and St Albans area for dressing in military clothing."

At around 5pm on March 22 ,officers were called by a woman who saw Lawrence carrying what she thought was a rifle in White Horse Lane, London Colney.

The police were called, but after a search of the area could not trace him. An hour later he was spotted by another member of the public, who knew him as Stephen, in London Colney High Street. Lawrence was wearing a camouflage jacket with netting and red paratropper-style beret with air rifle under his arm.

The police continued a search, and half an hour later Lawrence, was tracked down to Cairns Close in St Albans.

Mr Speak said, as PC Ben Mann got out of his car, Lawrence brandished the rifle, put himself in a half crouch position and pointed it from around 10 feet away, at the officer's chest. PC Mann saw he had his finger on the trigger, but realised when he heard a popping sound that it was an air rifle.

Lawrence was disarmed and overpowered after PAVA incapacitant spray was aimed at his face. The weapon, which was unloaded, was found to be a long barreled Griffin air rifle which looks like an AR-15 assault rifle.

When questioned, Lawrence said he had paid £70 for the rifle and was intending to shoot with it in the woods.

He said, he pointed the gun at the police officer because he was dazzled by the police car's lights and thought he was being attacked by travellers.

Lawrence said he could not remember adopting the firing position and denied playing out any military fantasy.

The gun offence was committed while he was on bail for stealing a can of cider from Londis in London Colney and punching a worker from the shop.

Lawrence, a divorced father of two, of Anderson House, Cairns Close, St Albans pleaded guilty to possessing an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence. He also admitted theft and common assault. He had previous convictions from this century relating to drinking, which included theft from shops and assaults on the police.

Andel Singh, defending, said Lawrence expressed his remorse to the officers and knows what he did was "wholly unacceptable." He said: "This case is a sad indictment of someone who had a good life before he became addicted to alcohol. "

Sentencing him, Judge Stephen Gullick said: "It is fortunate you were not confronted by firearms officers. They might have taken different actions. I take into account your apology to the officers who were doubtless very frightened. Initially they must have thought it was a proper firearm."

He told him: "At some point you have got to get off alcohol."

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