A TERMINALLY ill man who threatened to kill police officers and take his own life broke down in tears when he was told he would not be returning to prison.
Terry Bridger, 73, was involved in a siege at his home in Pagham last August when he told police he had a shotgun and was going to take his own life.
Chichester Crown Court heard that Bridger, who also said he was going to burn down his Harbour Road home, had had an argument with his wife. It came following a diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.
Nearby neighbours were evacuated while police tried to deal with the situation in a siege that lasted 40 hours. Bridger admitted two counts of threatening to destroy a property and one count of making use of a firearm to resist arrest.
Judge Christopher Parker QC sentenced him to a total of 10 months in prison but as he has already served the equivalent of 11 months, he was told he was free to go.
Defending Bridger, Pierce Power told the court he had only about a year to live.
He said: “He’s an honourable and decent member of society. His positive good character stands him in good stead.
“It would be a tragedy indeed if a man of 73 years of age with such a positive good character, for a moment of madness really in how he behaved that night, should possibly die in prison. This is a very serious offence. He is deeply remorseful.”
During an earlier hearing, it emerged that, although Bridger did have a gun, he did not have access to it at the time of the incident as it was locked away and he did not have any keys.
Sentencing him, Judge Parker said: “The police officers who were trying to deal with your extraordinary situation must have been very concerned indeed that they were at risk, that anybody else was at risk.
“Despite appearances, apart from damage to the property, the actual risk in this case was really only of harm to you, whether by your own hand or by putting yourself in a position where officers would have had to take the most extreme action against you.
“What you did, what you threatened and the trouble which you caused was very serious indeed.
“There is no clear indication of what it is that caused you to behave this way. Some indications are that you were on some new medication.
“Maybe it was simply the stress of knowing that you have a terminal illness.
“The facts of this case are quite extraordinary and quite unique, as is your situation. I am confident that they won’t be repeated. You won’t have the opportunity to do that again.”
Judge Parker also said he must undergo a 12 month supervision order.
He added: “The sad consequences of your illness means you will probably be supervised for the remainder of your life.
“You will be able to use the time to settle down to palliative care.”