Page last updated at 17:16 GMT, Friday, 2 January 2009

Golfer custody for holding 'gun'

Mold Crown Court
The court hear Keith Torrence hoped to become a professional golfer

A teenage golfer who has represented Wales has been sentenced to eight months youth custody for possessing an imitation firearm.

Mold Crown Court heard police were called after Keith Torrence was seen in a car holding what looked like a gun.

The weapon turned out to be cigarette lighter in the shape of a gun.

Torrence, 19, from Wrexham, who has represented Wales both at home and abroad, admitted affray and possessing an imitation firearm in public.

The court heard how members of the public and staff at shops in Wrexham town centre became concerned when they saw Torrence sitting in his car, holding the "gun" one afternoon last summer.

Another adult and children were in the back of the vehicle.

It is quite inappropriate now for me to again impose a sentence which does not involve immediate custody
Judge John Rogers QC

A witness in a cake shop told police how he realised that he had been seen - and seemed to move the pistol around even more.

Another witness heard someone in the car telling him to stop it because he was frightening the children.

Arrested and interviewed, he said that he was just messing about.

He said that he had not intended to frighten anyone and was just playing with it.

Caused distress

Judge John Rogers QC told Torrence that the possession of a firearm, whether real or not, caused fear and distress among those who saw it.

Torrence had caused such distress that members of the public called the police, he said.

A custodial sentence was inevitable and he had considered whether it could be suspended.

But he had committed the offence while subject to a community sentence for affray, and the day after his arrest he had been involved in an offence of battery.

"It is quite inappropriate now for me to again impose a sentence which does not involve immediate custody," the judge said.

Deliberately targeted

Oliver King, defending, said Torrence had been guilty of a stupid, rather than a dangerous, act.

There was no suggestion, he said, that he pointed the imitation firearm at anyone or deliberately targeted anyone but he knew it had been a stupid thing to do, particularly in the present climate.

He said Torrence came from a good and supportive family, and he hoped to become a professional golfer.

In 2007 he represented Wales both at home and abroad, and had won a cup at European level as well.

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