Pensioner who threatened drone pilot with gun is spared jail
Michael Edwards, 72, was caught wielding the weapon on video as he rushed out of his home in a rage to confront his victim
A pensioner has avoided jail after threatening a professional drone pilot with a gun while accusing him of filming his wife sunbathing in their garden.
Michael Edwards, 72, was caught wielding the weapon on video as he rushed out of his home in a rage to confront his victim.
A court heard videographer Daine Gooden was filming a neighbour's home from the sky on 22 August last year after being commissioned by an estate agent for a listing.
But he was left shocked when Edwards began shouting and swearing at him while armed with a black realistic-looking pistol.
Edwards, who was filmed “flapping” his arms around, told the victim he had taken three shots at his drone as it hovered near his property, claiming it was illegal to fly there.
The defendant, of Cirencester, had pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm, namely a Huntington G10 air pistol, at a hearing last month and was back in court to be sentenced on Friday.
Avoiding jail, he was given a curfew and ordered to wear a tag and pay compensation to Gooden.
Gloucester Crown Court heard Gooden tried to calmly explain why he was flying the drone.
But Edwards refused to accept his explanation, repeatedly telling him not to fly it near his house, saying: "If you do it again, I will fire at it again. I took three shots at it and I missed."
The victim said "don't point that gun at me" to which the suspect responded "don't point a f***ing drone at me".
Edwards then hit the drone case with the gun, causing irreparable damage to the device worth about £1,300.
Chris Smyth, prosecuting, said Gooden’s activity was “perfectly lawful” and confirmed he was registered with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) as required.
He said the defendant was “erratic with his arms and the gun”, adding he was “only a foot away from the victim being aggressive, irate and shouting and swearing about the drone”.
Fearing for his safety and of those around him, Gooden wrestled with the gunman to disarm him and kicked the weapon away. Edwards collected the gun and ran back into his house.
Police were called to the scene and armed officers arrested the defendant.
Read more: Bloodied pensioner becomes 60th person injured by 'optical illusion' cycle lane
In custody, he admitted what he had done but claimed he was concerned the drone pilot was either casing his property or photographing his wife sunbathing.
A neighbour, Katherine Teague, who was present during the incident, confirmed in her statement that Gooden had explained his reason for flying the drone, but Edwards continued to state it was illegal and remained “very angry” about it.
She claimed Edwards called the victim a “pussycat” and repeatedly mocked him as he called 999.
Steve Young, defending, told the court Edwards “has never been involved in any criminal proceedings” in the past and was of good character.
He said his client bought the air pistol 20 years ago at a car boot sale and uses it to fire warning shots at foxes when they come into his garden.
Read more: Teen, 19, kicked woman, 49, in the head until she was unconscious at train station
Young added Edwards is “genuinely remorseful and does apologise” for his behaviour, accepting it was “entirely unacceptable”.
“He accepts it would have caused the victim real distress.
“He’s never been in this situation before, it’s caused a great deal of stress to himself and his family. He has been law-abiding all his life.”
Recorder Richard Mawhinney imposed a 12-month community order with one requirement: for the defendant to complete a four-month curfew between 7pm and 7am daily, which will be monitored by a GPS tag.
“The tag will be a reminder to you of what you’ve done, and to anyone else who sees the tag a reminder of what you’ve done”, he said.
He was ordered to pay £3,000 compensation to Gooden: £2,000 for the damaged drone and loss of earnings and £1,000 for the distress caused.