Page last updated at 17:49 GMT, Thursday, 25 March 2010

Gatwick Airport firearm man given prison sentence

David Sheehan
David Sheehan was given a three-year prison sentence

A man who wanted police to shoot him in a "desperate suicide bid" has been jailed for threatening people with an imitation gun at Gatwick Airport.

David Sheehan, 46, from Crawley, West Sussex, pleaded guilty to possessing an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence.

He was arrested after police used a Taser stun-gun on him.

Sheehan was given a three-year prison sentence by the judge at Hove Crown Court.

The court heard that Sheehan boarded a bus to the airport on 29 July, telling passengers: "Don't go to Gatwick as people are going to get shot."

I just want to die - why didn't you shoot me?
David Sheehan

Witnesses said Sheehan got off the bus and made his way to a shop where he pointed a replica hand gun at a member of staff and said: "Where are the... police, I'm ready to die."

Police arrived and when he appeared to reach for his replica gun again, he was shot with the Taser.

Defending him, Sarah Thorne said Sheehan did not intend to cause the public fear but wanted police to shoot him in a "desperate" suicide attempt.

Sheehan later told police in an interview: "I just want to die. Why didn't you shoot me?"

Ms Thorne said Sheehan, of Curteys Walk, Bewbush, was suffering from the emotional stress of being his ill mother's full time carer and from the recent death of his father.

Ms Thorne said: "What he did on that day was an extremely selfish action, extremely foolhardy and he knows that he caused fear and suffering to members of the public."

'Had been drinking'

Sentencing him Judge Charles Kemp told the court: "Nobody present at the airport would have known that what you had was a replica [gun].

"Anybody who uses Gatwick Airport will know only too well how terrifying it would be as a member of the public to be in one of those terminals with someone like you with what appears, to all intents and purposes, to be a gun."

Following the sentencing a Sussex Police spokesperson said : "There was no evidence of any terrorist motivation in his actions and at no stage were any controlled areas or aircraft endangered.

"It subsequently became clear that Sheehan had been drinking.

"His declared motive in going to Gatwick whilst drunk was to be shot by police, but the use of the less-than-lethal Taser option helped avoid such a tragedy."

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