Armed officers swoop on Red Lion pub in Bitterne after man drops BB gun

A BRICKLAYER who caused armed officers to swoop on a Bitterne pub after bringing an imitation firearm to its premises has been jailed.

William Mason was chucked out of The Red Lion, in Bitterne Precinct, on June 30 after bouncers grew “concerned” about him waiting around the gents in the Wetherspoons pub.

After a security guard ordered him to leave, the 30 year old dropped the fake gun outside the premises before quickly picking it up again and fleeing.

Prosecutor Charles Nightingale told Southampton Magistrates’ Court that security within the pub were suspicious of people using the toilets as “it can sometimes be a place where drugs are exchanged and drugs are used”.

Mr Nightingale added: “The assistant manager then approached Mason to ask what was going on.

“The defendant then goes outside and away but drops the gun.”

At the time it was reported that armed officers came to the pub to reports of a man with a gun.

The court heard that officers visited Mason’s premises and found the BB gun but that it was unloaded.

Mr Nightingale told Southampton Magistrates’ Court that Mason was also convicted of two counts of possessing a bladed article in public when police pulled over his car at around 10am on September 6.

He said: “Officers stopped the car because one of the windows was smashed.

“The defendant was driving and appeared to be very nervous.

“They searched his car and inside the glove box found a lock knife and down the drivers’ pocket a hunting knife.”

Mr Nightingale added: “The three charges put together showed that this man has an unhealthy interest in weapons.”

Mason pleaded not guilty to the charges, but when the cases went to two separate trials he failed to turn up on either occasion.

In each instance, Magistrates found him guilty in his absence.

The court heard that Mason had a previous conviction for possessing a knife from 2002, when he was just 14 years old.

Mitigating, Michael McGoldrick told the court that despite this being the second instance where Mason had been caught with a knife, a suspended sentence order could be issued.

He said: “Mason has lived a very chaotic lifestyle due to his heroine misuse but his family still support him.

“His mother is suffering with cancer and he wants to be there.

“His father has planned for work for him in reconstructing a farm so he could start working again.”

Mason, of Adey Close, Sholing, was sentenced to six months. He was ordered to pay £115 victim surcharge.

Southern Daily Echo

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