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Man was ‘moments away’ from being shot, court hears

PUBLISHED: 16:42 28 January 2020

Matthew Prettyman, of Beech Close in Halesworth, has been sentenced to three years in jail after pleading guilty to a firearms incident in Bungay. Picture: Suffolk Police

Matthew Prettyman, of Beech Close in Halesworth, has been sentenced to three years in jail after pleading guilty to a firearms incident in Bungay. Picture: Suffolk Police

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A suicidal man who pointed a realistic imitation handgun at armed police because he wanted them to shoot him has been jailed for three years.

The imitation firearm. Picture: Suffolk PoliceThe imitation firearm. Picture: Suffolk Police

Matthew Prettyman, of Beech Close in Halesworth, was sentenced after previously pleading guilty to a firearms incident in Bungay.

Sentencing him at Ipswich Crown Court on Tuesday, January 28, Judge Rupert Overbury said Prettyman, 49, had been "moments away" from being shot.

The judge said: "An armed police officer was put in a situation where he believed you were going to shoot him.

"He said it was the closest he had come to discharging his firearm in 10 years of service."

He accepted Prettyman's behaviour had been affected by his mental state at the time.

Prettyman admitted possessing an imitation firearm, namely a BB air gun, on July 26 last year with intent to cause fear of violence.

The court heard that the alarm was raised after Prettyman told a mental health worker he had a gun.

Prettyman was contacted by phone by a police negotiator and firearms officers were sent to his home address but he wasn't there.

He was later found sitting in his car outside his brother's house in Mountbatten Road, Bungay, said Phillip Farr, prosecuting.

"Officers were aware there was a black handgun in the car and told him to open the door.

"Officers then saw him lift his right hand towards his chest to reveal a black pistol similar to the Glock pistols they used."

Prettyman was told to put the gun on the passenger seat but instead he pointed the gun out of the driver's door towards two officers in an "extremely frightening way", Mr Farr added.

He said: "Fortunately the gun was put down otherwise one of the officers said he would have had no choice but to shoot the defendant."

Prettyman then agreed to throw the gun out of the window and officers approached the vehicle with a ballistic shield before arresting him on suspicion of possession of an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear or violence

He later told officers he was suicidal and had sourced a good replica gun with the intention of getting police officers to shoot him.

Andrew Thompson, for Prettyman, said his client had long-term mental health issues and had been diagnosed with prostate cancer and had a heart condition.

"He didn't intend to hurt anyone," added Mr Thompson.

'Very threatening'

Speaking after the sentencing of Prettyman, Det Con Andrew Thawley, of Lowestoft CID, said it was an "extremely dangerous" scenario for all involved.

Det Con Thawley said: "Although on closer inspection the firearm was identified as a BB gun, one officer involved stated it was the most realistic imitation firearm he has encountered.

"Another officer at the scene stated the incident it was the closest he had come to discharging his firearm in 10 years of service as an armed officer.

"To wave such a firearm in the direction of officers was a very threatening thing to do in the circumstances.

"Although Prettyman stated he had no intention of hurting anyone, it is an incident that demonstrates the extreme seriousness of such actions and how things can very quickly escalate to extremely dangerous scenarios for all involved."

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