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Wednesday, 30 July 2014

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West Cumbrian man threatened 'noisy' workmen with gun

Armed police swooped on a street after a man brandished a gun at two workmen who woke him up with their noisy hedge-cutting, a court has heard.

Stuart Armstrong, 52, went to the upstairs bedroom of his home in Meadow View, Low Row, Whitehaven, swore at Malcolm McCoy and Sean Winnery, who were working outside and then pointed his .22 air rifle at them.

The two men – who were using a petrol engine hedge cutter – were convinced he was going to shoot them, Carlisle Crown Court heard yesterday. They dialled 999 and a police armed response unit soon arrived.

But by that time, prosecutor Becky McGregor said, Armstrong had produced a fishing rod, and was trying to persuade the workmen it was that they had seen, not a gun.

When Armstrong was arrested he told police he had been woken by the noise of the hedge-cutter, which he thought was “out of order”.

The gun – which he insisted was not capable of being fired – was later found behind a wall, where he had thrown it.

Armstrong pleaded guilty to possessing an imitation firearm with intent to cause Mr McCoy and Mr Winnery fear that unlawful violence would be used against them.

The court heard the prosecution had to accept Armstrong’s claim that the gun could not have been fired since the police had not bothered to send the weapon off to be tested because it was not thought worth paying the £1,000 such a test would have cost.

Defence barrister Kim Whittlestone said that although Armstrong did have some previous convictions none was as serious as the offence he now admitted.

She said he was still suffering the effects of a brain injury he sustained at work a few years ago.

Judge Paul Batty QC told Armstrong he had behaved in an “incredibly stupid and possibly dangerous” way.

“You terrorised those two poor workmen,” he said.

Armstrong was put under probation supervision for 12 months and made to pay the costs of the hearing.

The judge ordered the gun be destroyed.

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