Co Antrim man who pointed fake gun at police in an attempted 'suicide by cop' is jailed

Alan Samuel McMasterAlan Samuel McMaster
Alan Samuel McMaster
​A Larne man who pointed a fake but realistic handgun at police in an attempted “suicide by cop” incident was handed a 20 month sentence today.

Sentencing Alan Samuel McMaster at Antrim Crown Court, Judge Alistair Devlin said given the contents if the various reports he was satisfied the 37-year-old needed extra help and support to secure his rehabilitation so he ordered him to serve eight months in jail and a further year on licence.

McMaster, from Torr Gardens in Larne, had earlier entered a guilty plea to having an imitation gun, namely an airsoft gun, with intent to cause fear of violence on 4 June 2023.

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During his sentencing remarks today, Judge Devlin outlined how the defendant himself had called police in the early hours and when officers arrived at his home, he was “shouting and swearing at them through the opaque glass in the front door.”

McMaster “refused to engage” with the officers and he then “produced what appeared to be a firearm and proceeded to aim it, through the glass, directly at the officer.”

Constable Spencer was standing right in front of him and, fearing for both his safety and that if his colleagues, he “immediately shouted the warning ‘gun gun, back, hard cover’,” as he withdrew his own weapon from it’s holster fearing that “he may have to immediately use it in order to protect life.”

His colleague, taking cover behind a car a short distance away, had unclipped their weapon too but a short time later, McMaster’s father came downstairs saying that he wanted his son removed and McMaster followed him out, “with his hands in the air.”

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A firearm was recovered during a search ot the property and Judge Devlin told the court its nature was such that it fell under the firearms order 2004, adding that he had seen it and it “gives every impression of being a fully functioning handgun.”

Commenting that it was a “highly intimidatory firearm,” the judge said that during later police interviews McMaster was asked to explain his behaviour “and he told police that maybe suicide by cop, as he called it, was what he was wanting.”

Judge Devlin revealed that shortly after the incident Mcmaster had been granted bail but that was revoked when he “doused himself in petrol and threatened to set himself, along with the family home, on fire.”

He told the court it was clear that McMaster had significant mental health issues and had been treated as an inpatient on several occasions but the defendant himself instead of turning to therapeutic intervention, has repeatedly decided to self medicate himself with substances.

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The judge said the fact that no one was actually physically harmed in this incident was in no small measure due to the professionalism of the police officers involved.”

Adopting a different approach from the usual 50/50 split between custody and licence, Judge Devlin emphasised that McMaster has been drug free while run custody for the last six months but warned that if he “failed to address the issue of substance abuse,” the court will not adopt the same stance again.