Air gun teenager has sentence deferred

A young man who wreaked havoc in Lerwick with an airgun had sentence deferred for a psychological report after admitting five charges at Lerwick Sheriff Court on Wednesday.

Samuel Barlow, 16, who appeared from custody, admitted assaulting two police officers at the Scord, Scalloway, by aiming an air rifle at them and threatening to shoot them.

After heading into Lerwick on foot, Barlow assaulted another man who confronted him in his garden at Helendale Drive by pointing the airgun at him. He also admitted pointing the gun at another man at Westerloch Drive before repeatedly pointing the air rifle and advancing on a further two policemen in Westerloch Drive and aiming at a police vehicle.

He also admitted shouting, swearing, committing a breach of the peace and threatening to shoot police officers and members of the public and pointing an air rifle at them at the Scord and Westerloch. All the offences occurred between 12.30pm and around tea time on 23rd September.

Procurator Fiscal Duncan MacKenzie said that the charges admitted by Barlow were of the utmost seriousness and Barlow had been very lucky not be shot himself. It was only the professionalism, restraint and courage of two locally based firearms officers which had saved Barlow, who had ignored the firearms being pointed at him.

Mr MacKenzie said that at first the police had thought the unknown gunman was armed with a .22 rifle, not an airgun.

He was eventually arrested after attempting to flee from the police.

The police in the meantime had received backup when a firearms squad was flown in by helicopter from Inverness.

The court was told that the first call to the police had come in after Barlow put ashore in a rubber dinghy at the East Voe in Scalloway. The first officers to attend the scene were unarmed and had to take cover when Barlow pointed the air rifle at them.

They then raised help by making a 999 call.

As he headed across country for Lerwick, the police were inundated with calls coming in “thick and fast” from the public about the camouflage clad “gunman”. A major incident was underway and every police officer in the area command was deployed.

Barlow arrived at Westerloch at a very busy time of the day and the police were unable to block every entrance to the heavily built-up residential area owing to the network of roads that converge there. Barlow, Mr MacKenzie continued, had been in gardens and tried to enter houses before coming face to face with one householder who had tried to calm him down and had been “terrified” when Barlow menaced him with the airgun.

Police negotiators eventually managed to make contact with Barlow who was pacing up and down the road and going in and out of gardens. Police were meanwhile “running around” shouting for people to stay indoors.

The situation seemed to “escalate” and Barlow became unhappy with the negotiators, the court heard. He then took off through gardens with such speed that the police had difficulty keeping him in sight.

At this point the police decided to adopt more aggressive tactics and it was only when they pointed their rifles at Barlow “for the final time”, that he fled and was restrained.

Sheriff Philip Mann said that as a parent, he could sympathise with the visibly distraught Barlow, who was appearing from Polmont Young Offenders Institution, but given the severity of the offences, he had no option but to remand him in custody.

Sentence was deferred till 7th January when a psychological assessment of Barlow will be available.


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