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Wednesday, 13 February, 2002, 15:14 GMT
Fugitive 'planned police killings'
BBC court graphic
A fugitive with an "obsession to avoid capture" kept guns he planned to use against police officers, the Old Bailey has been told.

John Sweeney was on the run for six years after being accused of a violent double attack on his girlfriend in 1994.

He used false names, disguises and stayed at different addresses, the court heard on Wednesday.

When he was finally caught, police found two loaded sawn-off shotguns at his London home and a loaded pistol in his locker at work.


He knew police wouldn't give up the hunt, so he fled for six years

Prosecutor Sarah Forshaw
Officers also found sketches and poems written by Mr Sweeney, which demonstrate his fear of capture and intentions towards the police, the prosecution has alleged.

Mr Sweeney, originally born in Kirkdale, Liverpool, denies three charges of having firearms with intent to endanger life.

"Between 1994 and 2001 Sweeney dreaded above all was his capture by the police and the loss of his liberty," said prosecutor Sarah Forshaw.

"The Crown does not have to prove the lives being endangered were those of police officers but after seeing all the material you may think that was probably the case."

Miss Forshaw said Mr Sweeney was "something of an artist" and his drawings and writings will enable the jury to "open up the defendant's head and look inside".

Mr Sweeney, 45, vanished in December 1994 after "seriously" assaulting his girlfriend while on conditional bail for an earlier attack on her.

'Lying low'

Miss Forshaw said: "From then he was on the run. What that meant to the defendant was the stakes were high - so high that he knew police wouldn't give up the hunt, so he fled for six years."

Miss Forshaw read one of the defendant's poems to the jury.

"On the wrong side of the law on the wild side of life with nothing left to lose," it read.

"No escape from the past, watching for the police down every street, any day could be my last.

"It ain't much fun being married to a gun - but misery or pleasure nothing's forever."

Miss Forshaw said Mr Sweeney spent some time in Germany, but was mainly "lying low" in London.

'Death' sketch

He found work using the alias Joe Johnson but was spotted by a police officer on 23 March last year, the court heard.

Armed officers surrounded him and despite reaching for a knife hidden in his waistband, he was tackled and arrested, jurors were told.

Mr Sweeney's home in Charteris Road, Finsbury Park, London, was later searched, where the guns were found.

The prosecutor also held up a colourful sketch to the jury that she said depicts a policeman being blown up.

The trial continues.


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