A pensioner who brandished an imitation firearm outside a social club in Belfast in a bid to frighten another man was been handed a suspended sentence.
Giving James Patrick Reynolds an 18-month prison sentence, which was suspended for two years, a Crown Court judge warned the 65-year old to keep out of trouble – or risk being sent to prison.
Reynolds, from Kinnaird Close in the city, appeared at Belfast Crown Court where he admitted a single charge of possessing an imitation shotgun with intent on June 17 last year.
A prosecuting barrister said what took place outside the Lower Falls Social Club was linked to a matter several days before, when Reynolds was involved in “an incident with staff” which rendered him “no longer welcome in the club”.
Around 1pm on June 17, the injured party saw Reynolds making his way to the club’s entrance. Preventing Reynolds from entering, the injured party told him he wasn’t getting in.
The barrister said words were exchanged, voices were raised, and after fearing things were escalating, the injured party punched Reynolds in the face. Saying this action “seems to have been the trigger for what happened afterwards”, the barrister said at this point Reynolds left the scene and walked away muttering under this breath.
Later that afternoon, the injured party was alerted by a youth of the presence of a man outside the club who wanted to speak to him. He walked outside and saw Reynolds who, according to the Crown, “reached inside his trousers and pulled out what appeared to be a shotgun”.
This caused the injured man to run back inside. Police were called and Reynolds was arrested.
The prosecutor said that while Reynolds gave a ‘no comment’ interview, during a subsequent bail application he made the case that after an incident at the club, he went home and fashioned items to resemble a shotgun then returned to the scene to frighten the injured party.
“Clearly that had the desired affect,” the prosecutor said, adding “fear was instilled” in the other man.
Defence barrister Kelly Doherty said Reynolds had poor mental health and issues with alcohol – but said that since a period on remand last year, her client has abstained from drink.
She also revealed that Reynolds has since described his actions last June as “total madness”, and said that in the days prior to the incident, he had not been taking his medication.
Handing Reynolds a suspended sentence, Judge Ramsey branded what occurred as a “spontaneous reaction to an earlier incident”, and said it was “mercifully brief”.
Noting that Reynolds spent time on remand for the offence, and is now seeking to address his issues, the judge noted the imitation gun was “crudely put together” and said: “This seems to have been an isolated incident.”