Great Britain

Man warned police they had five minutes to get to Easington

A MAN in the midst of a mental health crisis told police he was planning to shoot innocent people with a crossbow, a court heard.

The revelation was made by Reece Robson hours after he fired a crossbow bolt through the windscreen of a Renault Megane, parked in Hawthorn Street, Easington Colliery, on September 26, last year.

Durham Crown Court was told the owner got home from work at 5.30pm to find both the windscreen and a rear passenger window smashed, with an 18-in crossbow bolt found nearby.

Shaun Dryden, prosecuting, said police established the bolt went through both windows and could have easily hit nearby house windows.

Mr Dryden said police received a call from the defendant at 7.36 that evening stating: “You’ve got five minutes to get to Easington before I start shooting people. Simple.”

He was asked where he was but was not found and at 10.59pm a further call was made saying he wanted to turn himself in to police.

Robson said he had been planning to shoot people but added: “I don’t want to do it anymore.”

He told the call handler he had been off his medication recently and revealed he had a crossbow.

Mr Dryden said officers located Robson sitting on a bench outside the library in Seaside Lane, Easington, with a crossbow across his lap, at 11.10pm.

He was told to stand up, but as he was grabbing the handle of the crossbow, officers drew taser stun guns and ordered him to put it down.

Having followed the instruction he was searched and three crossbow bolts, three knives and what appeared to be an imitation hand gun were recovered from Robson.

It was found to be a gas-powered replica ball-bearing pistol but it was not capable of being discharged.

A search of his home led to the recovery of another crossbow and a further six bolts, plus three other knives.

He told police he earlier saw someone in the crossbow sights but chose not to fire.

Robson, 22, of James Street, Easington Colliery, admitted damaging property, possessing an imitation firearm and two offensive weapons, namely the crossbow and knives.

Lewis Kerr, mitigating, said Robson, of previous good character, had mental health issues but had chosen not to take his prescribed medication for about a year as he felt it was not working.

Amid consequential “spiralling mental health issues”, on the day of the offences it the “culmination” of a crisis in which he considered self-harm.

Having been told that Robson had been found fit to plead in the case, following recent psychiatric examination, Recorder Keir Monteith QC imposed a two-and-a-half year prison sentence and ordered forfeiture and destruction of the seized weapons.