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Store gun prankster jailed

Maidstone crown court
Maidstone crown court

By Keith Hunt

Armed police swooped after a man brandished a gun at a supermarket security guard, a court heard.

David Saunders was wearing a high visibility jacket as he went into Sainsbury's in Sittingbourne on October 1 last year.

Because he was acting strangely, the guard followed him outside. Saunders pulled out a gun and held it above his head.

Bridget Todd, prosecuting, said Saunders, 25, then pointed the weapon directly at the guard, who went inside the store and reported it to CCTV operators.

Saunders ran from the car park towards the bingo hall in the High Street. Police approached him and asked if he had a weapon.

After replying that he did, he was forced to the ground and an imitation firearm with ballbearing pellets was taken from his pocket.

Saunders said his only intention was "to do stupid things with it like shoot pigeons".

He was released on bail and a week later he was arrested near the town's railway station and found to have a police baton and handcuffs.

Saunders, of Tufton Road, Gillingham, was again bailed and on October 30 officers went to Park Wood Parade in Maidstone after being told he was selling police batons.

He ran off and when caught kicked out at an officer, injuring his knee. He was then remanded in custody.

Saunders was jailed for 13 months after admitting possessing an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence, possessing an offensive weapon and assault.

He had a previous conviction for possessing a CS gas canister.

James Dunn, for Saunders, said the imitation gun was in effect a toy and it would be obvious to anyone close by. "Alcohol is a huge problem. There is no psychiatric background. It is a matter he regrets," he said.

Recorder Cairns Nelson said it was a serious offence to get out a realistic firearm in a public place and point it at someone.

"This is your last chance. This is a lenient sentence."

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