Baldwins trial: Defence blasts case against Leighton Buzzard father and son

Luton Crown Court
Luton Crown Court

As the trial against Richard and Bernard Baldwin draws to a close, their defence barrister listed the prosecution case as “wicked” in his closing arguments on Friday.

The Baldwins face multiple charges including attempted murder after shooting at an unmarked police car on September 22 last year.

The duo claim it was a case of mistaken identity following a break-in at their business by travellers that night.

Richard Baldwin’s wife Victoria also faces a count of assisting an offender.

Jonathan Goldberg QC said that Richard Baldwin – a licenced gun-holder and skilled marksman – had shot at the vehicle in order to carry out a citizen’s arrest before police arrived.

Mr Goldberg said: “He doesn’t take the automatic beretta shotgun he’s got, wouldn’t that be good for shooting travellers? He doesn’t take the sniper rifle which can send a bullet 2.5 miles and kill an elephant.

“He takes the rubbish gun from his collection, he then takes the worst ammunition of the six types he’s got - the clay pellet rounds.

“This is not a man who’s lost control, who’s acting disproportionately... He’s a slight fellow, never had a fisticuff in his life, and the kind of people he’s expecting to see are these kinds of people, two of whom he knows.”

Mr Goldberg then lifted a picture to the jury, showing some of the travellers the Baldwins have had trouble with.

He went on: “Are you going to go there with a stick and a torch, and nothing else? Richard Baldwin would have been thinking, ‘If I don’t take something to protect myself, that stick and torch could end up where the sun don’t shine’ with these kinds of people.”

Mr Goldberg argued that the defence of a citizen’s arrest allowed the pair to have been mistaken in their identification of the vehicle, provided they used a proportionate level of force.

He said: “Nobody would wish on their worst enemy the experience of the officers that night. It must have been extremely unpleasant. Mr Baldwin said he was gutted about it. If police officers are attacked, [the force] will go to the ends of the earth and they’ve seen red in this case. It’s all for one and one for all.”

The defence stated that the two police officers are alive and well, and that the Baldwins have had eight months of “absolute hell”.

On the night of the burglary on September 22, Bernard Baldwin had spotted the unmarked white police van on the Billington Road roundabout and wrongly concluded that the vehicle belonged to those responsible.

Mr Goldberg said: “It was the father who put two and two together and made five. It’s near McDonalds where [the travellers] congregate and nobody respectable wants to eat there apparently because of that.

“Mr Baldwin knows that the local police are inadequate, that the 999 responses are dreadful. His friend at another business was attacked with a metal bar and police took 24 hours to respond. He knows another man who committed suicide because of what the travellers did.

“The prosecution has got this whole thing upside down, it’s wicked. The line between getting court marshalled and getting a medal is a very fine one sometimes.”

Many characters witnesses had testified at Luton Crown Court on the Baldwin family’s behalf during the trial.

The defence added: “You just need to use your common sense to know what tosh you’ve been hearing over the past eight days by this unfair prosecution.

“They reasonably believed [the burglars] would get away scot-free because the police are useless. The irony is that this happened on the one night when there were effective response units in the area.”

> A verdict is expected to be reached on the trial this week.