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Friday 22 September 2017

Briton jailed in US for trying to grab gun in apparent bid to kill Donald Trump

A British man has been jailed for 12 months for trying to grab a policeman's gun at a Donald Trump rally in an apparent bid to kill the now US president-elect.

Michael Sandford, 20, attempted to snatch the weapon at a Las Vegas casino where Mr Trump was addressing supporters in the run-up to the US election in June.

He allegedly told officers after his arrest that his plan was to shoot the tycoon.

Sandford, who has autism, was sentenced at a federal court in Las Vegas after pleading guilty in September to charges of being an illegal alien in possession of a firearm and disrupting an official function.

Lawyers acting for the Briton said he suffers a number of mental health problems and he was diagnosed as having had a psychotic episode at the time of the incident on June 18.

Sentencing Sandford to 12 months and a day in prison, Judge James Mahan told him: "You have a medical problem. You should not be ashamed or embarrassed about it. You need medication.

"You're not a hardened criminal. You're not evil or a sociopath like a lot of people we have.

"I don't think you wanted to kill anybody. This was just some crazy stunt that your mind told you to do."

Sandford, of Dorking, Surrey, became tearful as he addressed the court to apologise for his actions.

Dressed in an orange prison uniform and wearing leg irons, he told the court: "I know saying sorry is not enough. I really do feel awful about what I did.

"I wish there was some way to make things better.

"I have cost taxpayers so much money. I feel terrible."

Addressing the judge, he added: "I'm really sorry to you and the court for taking up so much time."

Sandford had faced up to 20 years in jail had he been found guilty of the offences at a trial. He had initially denied the charges but pleaded guilty in September following a plea agreement.

Before sentencing, Sandford waved to his mother Lynne, father Paul Davey, grandmother Christine and four-year-old sister Jessica, who travelled to Las Vegas for the hearing.

Addressing the court, Mrs Sandford said: "(Michael) means everything to me,

"He made a very bad mistake, a huge error of judgment.

"It breaks my heart to see him in this environment.

"So many people back in England know this is not Michael. Everyone knows he's a good person at heart.

"He needs to get psychiatric help back at home. He's very remorseful for what he did."

Ms Sandford, whose daughter Jessica was clutching a tiger toy in court, had previously called for her son to be allowed to serve his sentence in the UK.

His lawyers say he will now serve around four months, having been detained since June, before he is deported back to Britain.

Brenda Weksler, representing Sandford, told the court: "This was really not a plan. He was just answering to voices he's been having, unfortunately, for a very long time."

Sandford was arrested at Treasure Island casino in Las Vegas where Mr Trump was addressing 1,500 supporters on June 18.

According to court documents, Sandford told a policeman at the rally that he wanted Mr Trump's autograph before he attempted to seize the officer's gun.

He was tackled by officers and frogmarched from the venue.

During a police interview, when asked why he attempted to grab the weapon, Sandford replied: "To shoot and kill Donald Trump," court records show.

He had driven to Las Vegas from Californa on June 16, and went to a shooting range the next day, where he said he learnt how to use a gun for the first time.

Sandford, who was unemployed and had overstayed his visa, told investigators he expected to die in the attempt on June 18, according to court documents.

He also claimed to have booked tickets for another Trump rally in Phoenix, Arizona, in case he was unable to attempt to take the tycoon's life in Las Vegas, prosecutors said.

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