False 999 call sparks gun-point arrest of innocent man
By Court reporter | 19th June 2019
A 21 year old Bishops Cleeve man has been spared jail after making a false 999 call that led to an innocent man being marched at gunpoint out of his home.
Marcus Baxter of Millham Road, Bishops Cleeve, called the police claiming that his son had shot his girlfriend and then himself in the leg.
He gave a neighbour's address, leading to firearms officers turning up and arresting the shocked neighbour at gunpoint, putting him in handcuffs and taking him out of his home to the end of the street.
Baxter pleaded guilty to wasting police time on 13th October and also admitted sending offensive messages on 12th and 13th January of this year and two further offences of malicious communications aimed at the Gloucestershire Constabulary.
Prosecuting Gordon Gregory said on 13th October Baxter called the police initially giving his own address but later changing it to the neigbour's address.
"He claimed to witness his son shooting the defendant's girlfriend before shooting himself in the leg. In the 999 call he said he thought his girlfriend was dead. There were a number of questions he purported to be unable to answer, including his own name and his son's name.
"Three response officers, a response sergeant, four firearms officers, a dog handler and an ambulance were dispatched the the address.
"The male inside was arrested at gunpoint, put in handcuffs and marched out to the end of the street at gunpoint in the rain. It caused immediate personal distress" Mr Gregory told the court.
"He was later arrested and in interview denied everything and was released under investigation."
The court heard that on 12th January a police officer visited Baxter and had a discussion with him and his mother regarding his mental health and attempting to convince him to seek medical assistance.
"The police officer was trying to find an alternative to prosecution. The police officer was trying to help him" said Mr Gregory.
After the police officer left, however, Baxter posted messages on the Constabulary website targetting the police officer who had tried to help.
The message included "I hope her family and her kids die a horrible death of cancer" Mr Gregory told the court.
"She had been trying to help him and the comments caused great distress. She said the comments were grossly offensive and hurtful.," said the barrister.
Baxter was arrested on 15th January and at the time said it was "a silly thing to do. He said he felt attacked and was defending himself, Mr Gregory told the court.
Baxter was bailed with conditions not to post anything on Gloucestershire Constabulary's Social Media pages.
But on 3rd March an email was send to the Constabulary press office, entitled 'cops ain't got balls' and asking for the email to be forwarded to the new officer in the case, since the old officer had stepped down following the previous offensive messages.
"It contained a post that was difficult to understand but it was intended to be offensive" said Mr Gregory.
The court heard that Baxter was under a suspended sentence order for dangerous driving and hitting a pregnant woman while under the influence of cocaine last April.
Defending, Matthew Harbinson said his client was recovering from cellulitis, sepsis and an overdose when he made the "bizarre phone call."
Mr Harbinson said an assessment of his mental health had been completed and it suggested that Baxter suffered paranoid personality disorder.
"He is suspicious of others, feels rejected by others and has a tendency to bear grudges" Mr Harbinson told the court.
"He also has traits of EIPD - Emotional Instability Personality Disorder.
"He accepts the content of those messages was unpleasant. The psychiatrist says Mr Baxter does not react to criticism well and he is impulsive.
"He is a young man with a plethora of personal problems" Mr Harbinson concluded.
Sentencing, Judge Cook said to Baxter that he what he did had a "significant impact on the neighbour' who has now asked to be moved.
"You then posted an exceptionally offensive message" said the judge. "What you wrote was deeply hurtful and cruel. The officer had gone above and beyond the call of duty to help you.
"In mitigation you do have a troubled history of ongoing mental health problems and a repeated history of self harm and attempts on your own life.
"You are extremely vulnerable and of fragile mental health and sending you to prison would undermine the work already being done" the judge told Baxter.
Baxter was sentenced to a three year community order concurrently on each charge.
He was also ordered to complete 12 rehabilitation activity requirement days, six months drug rehabilitation requirement and ordered to pay £350 compensation to the police officer.
Neil Hewitt, probation officer asked that a review be carried out in two months time of Baxter's progress. The judge agreed.
Baxter was also ordered to complete a further 12 days of rehabilitation requirement days to mark the breach on his suspended sentence.
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