Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Man Jailed after Gun Pointed at Officials; Incident Began When Search Uncovered Cannabis Plant in Garden

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Man Jailed after Gun Pointed at Officials; Incident Began When Search Uncovered Cannabis Plant in Garden

Article excerpt

Byline: ROB KENNEDY

ARMED police searched for a fugitive after he pointed a gun at council officers' heads when they stumbled across a cannabis plant in a back garden, a court has heard.

The three environmental enforcement officers turned up at a house in Newcastle while investigating the processing of waste and scrap metal.

As the council workers carried out a search in the back garden of the house, they came across a single cannabis plant.

One of them picked it up and Joe Foster appeared, told them "you can't take this", lifted his T-shirt up and pulled a handgun out of his waistband.

Foster, who was celebrating his 20th birthday on the day and thought what he had done was amusing, then pointed the gun at the terrified officers from close range and said: "What you going to do?" Police teams and the force helicopter were used to track down Foster when he went on the run. Officers dressed in riot gear stormed an apartment block in the West end of the city and climbed on the roof.

They sealed off Orchard Terrace in Throckley for more than five hours. At the time, neighbours claimed a man had "gone crazy" and was seen waving a gun around.

Tests would later show the weapon was in fact an unloaded air pistol, but Newcastle Crown Court heard it had the appearance of a genuine handgun. Judge Paul Sloan, locking up Foster for 12 months, told him: "The men believed the weapon was capable of firing and were extremely frightened by your actions and were left in a state of shock.

"This was an extremely serious incident involving you pointing a pistol at three council employees who were carrying out their duties.

"They believed you were going to fire the pistol and as a result they were utterly terrified.

"It seems initially you found the situation amusing, that you had caused such fear. You now have greater awareness of the seriousness of your offending that afternoon. …

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