Mar 22 2011 By Siba Matti
A MAN who fantasised about being an American police detective has been spared jail after brandishing a gun in public.
Frank Hawkins, 64, sparked an armed police alert after being spotted with a 'very realistic' imitation firearm in Murray Road, Northwood, at about 11.50am on September 4 last year.
Harrow Crown Court heard on Friday (18) that a witness, Miss Hunter, was alarmed to see Hawkins, of Wiltshire Lane, Northwood Hills, sitting on a wall and playing with a a gun.
She called the police who used CCTV to monitor Hawkins as he walked towards Maxwell Road in search of a cash machine, before returning to Murray Road.
Prosecuting, Azra Khan told the court that minutes later, police pounced and ordered Hawkins to lie down on the ground. In addition to having a Japanese manufacture cap firing revolver, Hawkins admitted having a second replica, an Umarix Derringerblank firing pistol, in his pocket.
The court heard Hawkins suffered from obsessive compulsive disorder and lived in a fantasy world, playing role games about being an American police detective.
He was also described as a hoarder, with extensive collections of porcelain, Second World War books and 'toy' guns.
Representing Hawkins, Sir Jonah Walker-Smith, said: "This is a vulnerable person with limited intelligence who would play with guns in the same way as an eight-year-old. Mr Hawkins was meeting a fellow toy gun collector who didn't turn up. There was no malign intent whatsoever and had he had the good sense to keep his collection of guns at home, behind closed doors, he would have committed no offence. Unfortunately, he didn't think things through."
Sir Walker-Smith also said Hawkins was suffering from depression after his father was taken into a care home with dementia.
Although the maximum sentence for possessing an imitation firearm in public is 12 months, His Honour Judge Arran said Hawkins had considerable problems with which he needed assistance.
Sentencing Hawkins to a community order with 12 months supervision, he said: "You are 64 and you have now lost your good character, which is very sad. You sometimes think of yourself as an American detective – I describe this as a fantasy world and this is not what I would expect a 64-year-old man to do. The replicas were extremely realistic and any member of the public would rightly fear for their safety."
The court also ordered the firearms to be forfeited and destroyed.
Speaking outside the court room, Hawkins told the Gazette: "I realise it was a stupid thing to do and I have decided I will not collect guns any more. I am going to get rid of my collection completely."