Man jailed for pointing immitation firearm at children - Leighton Buzzard

11/07/2014

A 'prank' with a fake gun said to have been bought in a pound shop, did not amuse a Judge, who said when it was pointed at two 12-year-old boys in a dark alleyway it terrified them.

Holding the imitation weapon was 22-year-old Gregory Lathwell, who had served time for manslaughter when he was 15-years-old, Luton Crown Court was told on Friday, 11 July 2014.

Lathwell, from Johnson Drive, Leighton Buzzard pleaded guilty to possessing an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear and was jailed for 22 months.

Claudette Elliott prosecuting for Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said the two boys were walking home on 12 October last year along an alleyway near West Side, Leighton. She said: "The defendant and another man came towards them and they saw him pull a gun out of his bag and point it towards them. They were really scared.  He said 'do you want some of this?' and the boys ran off, but were able to identify Lathwell to police."

She said they had described it as a "cowboy style" revolver, but it has never been recovered. She said Lathwell pleaded guilty to manslaughter in 2008, which involved a fight with another youth when he was 15. The victim was punched once and hit his head on the ground causing bleeding to the brain. Lathwell was given a three year custodial sentence for that offence.

Carl Woolf, defending said Lathwell and a friend had been celebrating a birthday that afternoon and were 'tipsy.'  He said: "He bought the toy gun in a pound shop and stupidly thought it would be fun to pull it out of his bag when he saw the boys. It was a stupid, drunken joke which has massively backfired. He now knows it caused them to be scared.  He categorically refutes that it was a real firearm, but in a dark alleyway it may have looked realistic."

Judge Michael Kay QC said: "Those boys had the great misfortune to come across you and what you did was reckless in the extreme. You have sought to suggest it was just a plastic imitation, but they believed it was a real gun and were extremely frightened. You knew they were only boys. To me this is a serious matter which could have caused really deep psychological harm."

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