Sunday 22 April 2018

Mother of Briton held over Donald Trump 'shooting bid' asks to visit son

Lynne Sandford and her son Michael
Lynne Sandford and her son Michael

A British mother is asking a US judge to let her personally visit her son, who is jailed in Nevada after what authorities say was an attempt to shoot Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump at a Las Vegas campaign rally.

Lawyers representing Michael Steven Sandford, 20, said he has "serious psychological problems" and has been on suicide watch in US federal custody at a facility about 50 miles west of Las Vegas.

Sandford's family and lawyers said he has Asperger's syndrome, obsessive compulsive disorder, depression and other mental-health issues.

A defence lawyer representing him at a bail hearing in June told a US federal magistrate judge that Sandford previously attempted suicide, was treated for anorexia, and once ran away from a hospital in England - but that he appeared competent for trial.

Sandford told a judge that he understood the charges against him. He has pleaded not guilty to disrupting an official function and weapon charges that could get him up to 30 years in federal prison.

His current lawyers, deputy federal public defenders Rene Valladares and Brenda Weksler, said in documents filed on Wednesday that Sandford is "in a very vulnerable mental state", and that a psychiatrist in Las Vegas determined he "would greatly benefit from the ability to meet with his mother in person".

They do not say what the two would talk about.

US District Judge James Mahan in Las Vegas postponed Sandford's trial to October 3. It had been set to begin on August 22.

Instead, the judge scheduled an August 23 hearing on Lynne Sandford's request.

Attorney Saimo Chahal in London has said she hopes to reach a plea bargain that would send Michael Sandford back to Britain rather than stand trial in the US.

US lawyer Daniel Bogden and a spokeswoman in Las Vegas did not immediately respond on Friday to messages.

Michael Sandford was arrested on June 18 after authorities say he grabbed for a Las Vegas police officer's gun.

Mr Trump, on stage, thanked uniformed officers walking Sandford in custody out of the 1,500-seat theatre at the Treasure Island hotel-casino.

Federal agents say Sandford told them he planned to kill Mr Trump, and that he drove from San Bernardino, California, to Las Vegas and practised shooting at a gun range the day before Mr Trump's appearance.

Officials say Sandford was in the US about nine months more than he was allowed upon entry under a visa-waiver programme.

Lynne Sandford has launched a crowd-funding appeal to pay for her son's legal fees. She told reporters in Britain that her son did not fully appreciate the gravity of what he had done.


Press Association

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