A man who sparked alarm when seen outside a north Cumbria hotel with a replica sub-machine gun has been spared jail.

Penrith's Premier Inn, close to the town centre, was locked down and firearms officers were summoned after an eyewitness reported Robin William Hunter being in possession of the imitation MP5 firearm on the afternoon of March 12.

Hunter, 49, had been sat a table outside the hotel, where one employee knew him as "military man" due to combat clothing he wore when visiting for breakfast.

Carlisle Crown Court heard today how his "airsoft" sub-machine gun, capable of firing low-powered projectiles, was unloaded, deactivated and lying on a table. He wasn't holding the item, nor used it to threaten.

At the time he was using free wifi to post videos of himself online which he filmed in a nearby supermarket car park while wearing masks and holding items, including fake firearms.

The hotel manager "did feel frightened", prosecutor Tim Evans said, and was "concerned for the safety of individuals inside".

However, Tarim Khawam, defending Hunter - who admitted imitation firearm possession - said to Judge James Adkin: "You are dealing, I would submit, with someone more akin to Buzz Lightyear than Al Capone."

Judge Adkin heard of the defendant's mental illness, which was being controlled, and "significant progress made in the community".

As a result, he suspended a six-month jail term for a year, and ordered Hunter of Champion Way, Penrith, to complete rehabilitation as part of a community order.