‘Walter Mitty’ type said he was armed

A homeless man described as a 'Walter Mitty' type placed an air pistol on a hotel counter and told the receptionist: 'I'm an armed police officer.'

Gary Wear, 48, appeared at Norwich Magistrates Court on Thursday and pleaded guilty to making a statement suggesting he was a police constable and possessing an air weapon in a public place.

The court heard that Wear arrived at the Lansdowne Hotel in Thorpe Road, Norwich, looking for a room in the early hours of September 29.

He had earlier tried two other hotels but both had been full up.

Prosecuting, Ben Brighouse said Wear asked receptionist Stuart Whelan for a room and then produced the Gamo PT-80 .177 calibre air pistol from a bag.

He placed it on the counter and then said: 'I'm an armed police officer.'

Wear than went to sit in the hotel lobby and told Mr Whelan that he would wait there for his wife, who would arrive in about 20 minutes' time.

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However, Wear fell asleep and was still sleeping when an armed police team arrived and he was arrested. Upon arrest, he admitted to police that he was guilty of having an air pistol in a public place.

In mitigation, Jamieson Plummer said it was a 'Walter Mitty situation'.

Mr Plummer said he could not explain why his client acted the way he did, although he did point out that he had suffered a near nervous breakdown and had spent time at Hellesdon Hospital.

He said: 'He did not try to gain anything by saying he was an armed police officer. It was a bizarre situation.

'The weapon was unloaded and he had bought it for his 12-year-old son as a present, costing �40.'

The court heard that Wear, whose previous address on the court list was C/O Drake Close in Hethersett, had already spent nearly seven weeks in custody.

Magistrates activated a suspended sentence given to Wear after he breached a restraining order on his wife, and handed him an 18-month conditional discharge but no order for costs was made.

The forfeiture and destruction of the air weapon was also ordered.