Northampton Magistrates’ court staff ‘feared for their lives’ when man produced throwing dagger and air pistol

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A Northampton man who entered a magistrates court with a ‘throwing dagger’ and an ‘air pistol’ was told he could go to prison when he is sentenced next month.

Thang Nguyen, of St Stephen’s House on Grafton Street, pleaded guilty to charges of possessing a bladed article and an air weapon in a public place at Northampton Magistrates Court yesterday.

The charges relate to an incident on August 2, where the 55-year-old entered the front door of the Campbell Square building to attend a council tax hearing, before allegedly trying to pass through the court’s security scanners with the items in his pockets.

District judge Tim Daber granted Nguyen unconditional bail and adjourned sentencing until January 19, telling the Northampton man: “prison remains a distinct possibility.”

Nigel Chapman, prosecuting said G4S security staff “feared for their life,” when Nguyen entered the court house with the weapons on August 2.

He said: “The security officer described the defendant trying to walk through the metal detector without emptying his pockets.

“The officer stopped him and asked him to empty his pockets, at which point the defendant said ‘I want the toilet’.

“He (Nguyen) stepped back and moved to his left towards the security counter. At that point the defendant produced a black dagger-shaped knife, which the security guard believed to be a throwing knife.

“A colleague moved the knife away from the defendant - who then produced what appeared to be a black handgun.

“He seemed to be holding it in such a way that could be used to shoot, before placing it on the front desk.

“The security guard said he was frightened and in fear of his life at that time.”

The court heard that one of the G4S staff went to alert plain clothed officers, who arrested Nguyen immediately after the incident.

Mr Chapman said Nguyen initially claimed he thought the items were ‘toys’.

Defending for him, Hayley Pearson said Nguyen made a “full and frank admission” to police after the incident and had recently been discharged by Berrywood hospital on August 2, where he was receiving treatment for ‘psycotic’ symptoms.

He had been hearing ‘voices in his head’ since leaving his native Vietnam in 1989, the court heard. “He thought the gun was a toy,” Ms Pearson said. “And that’s exactly what he used it for. He didn’t realise it was an offence to carry these things.”

While Nguyen admitted to possessing the weapons, he disputed the prosecution account that he had walked through the security scanner first.