Gun ‘prank’ backfires as boys fear for their lives

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A “prank” with a fake gun bought in a pound shop did not amuse a Judge, who said it had terrified two 12-year-old boys when it was pointed at them in a dark alleyway.

Holding the imitation weapon was 22-year-old Gregory Lathwell, Luton Crown Court was told on Friday.

Lathwell, from Johnson Drive, Leighton Buzzard pleaded guilty to possessing an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear. He was jailed for 22 months.

Claudette Elliott, prosecuting, said the two boys were walking home on October 12 last year along an alleyway near West Side, Leighton.

“The defendant and another man came towards them and they saw him pull a gun out of his bag and point it towards them. They were really scared.

“He said ‘do you want some of this?’ and the boys ran off, but were able to identify Lathwell to police.”

She said they had described it as a ‘cowboy style’ revolver, but it has never been recovered.

Carl Woolf, defending, said Lathwell and a friend had been celebrating a birthday that afternoon and were ‘tipsy’.

“He bought the toy gun in a pound shop and stupidly thought it would be fun to pull it out of his bag when he saw the boys.

“It was a stupid, drunken joke which has massively backfired. He now knows it caused them to be scared.

“He categorically refutes that it was a real firearm, but in a dark alleyway it may have looked realistic.”

Judge Michael Kay QC said: “Those boys had the great misfortune to come across you and what you did was reckless in the extreme.

“You have sought to suggest it was just a plastic imitation but they believed it was a real gun and were extremely frightened. You knew they were only boys.

“To me this is a serious matter which could have caused really deep psychological harm.”