Man with replica submachine gun "more Buzz Lightyear than Al Capone"

Date: Wednesday 15th May 2019

A MAN who was seen outside a hotel with a replica submachine gun was "more akin to Buzz Lightyear than Al Capone", a court heard.

Penrith's Premier Inn, close to the town centre, was locked down and firearms officers were drafted in after an eyewitness reported a man in possession of the imitation MP5 weapon on the afternoon of 12th March.

Robin William Hunter (49), Champion Way, Penrith, was sitting at a table outside the hotel, where one employee knew him as "military man" due to combat clothing he wore when visiting for breakfast.

"Next to him were a couple of bags," said prosecutor Mr Tim Evans. "Next to a black holdall-type bag was a gun."

This "airsoft" MP5 replica submachine gun, capable of firing low-powered projectiles, was unloaded, deactivated and lying on a table.

Carlisle Crown Court heard how, at the time, Hunter was using hotel WiFi to post videos of himself online. These were filmed in a nearby supermarket car park while he wore masks and held items, including fake firearms.

He told police who found the replica submachine gun at his nearby home that it was a "only a toy".

The hotel manager, who was advised by police to lock the hotel doors, "did feel frightened", said Mr Evans, and was concerned for the safety of those inside.

However, Mr Tariq Khawam, defending Hunter, who admitted imitation firearm possession, said to Judge James Adkin: "You are dealing, I would submit, with someone more akin to Buzz Lightyear than Al Capone."

Mr Khawam added: "There was no real element of intent. He plainly makes no threat to any individual."

Judge Adkin heard of the defendant's mental illness, which was being controlled, and "significant progress made in the community".

As a result, he suspended a six-month jail term for a year, and ordered Hunter to complete rehabilitation as part of a community order.

Judge Adkin told him: "If you are out filming and are caught in possession of a gun, the strong likelihood is you will be brought back before the court and locked up."