Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

Mother 'delighted' at 'compassionate' sentence for Trump gun snatch bid Briton

The mother of a British man jailed for trying to grab a policeman's gun at a Donald Trump rally in an apparent bid to kill the tycoon has said she is "absolutely delighted" with the sentence.

Michael Sandford, 20, attempted to snatch the weapon at a Las Vegas casino where the now president-elect was addressing supporters in the run-up to the US election in June.

On Tuesday he was sentenced at a federal court in Las Vegas to 12 months in jail after pleading guilty to charges of being an illegal alien in possession of a firearm and disrupting an official function.

Appearing on ITV's Good Morning Britain, his mother, Lynne Sandford, said the family, from Dorking in Surrey, are "absolutely delighted" and "over the moon with the sentence".

"The judge was a reasonable and compassionate man and he really took into account the full extent of Michael's problems," she told the show.

"And the fact that Michael was only a danger ever to himself - nobody else. We are thrilled to bits for him."

Sandford, who has autism, suffers from a number of mental health problems and was diagnosed as having had a psychotic episode at the time of the incident on June 18, his lawyers told the hearing.

He had faced up to 20 years in jail had he been found guilty of the offences at a trial, and initially denied the charges but pleaded guilty in September following a plea agreement.

Asked how her son is feeling following the hearing and about the prospect of being in a US prison, Ms Sandford said: "Obviously it is going to still be a struggle for him each day.

"But just knowing that he has only less than a year to do is going to make a tremendous amount of difference to him. He knows he has got a future ahead of him and it is not too far to go.

"He knows he has got his family to come back to and it just makes all the difference in the world to him."

Sandford's lawyers have said he will now serve around four months, having been detained since June, before he is deported back to Britain.

Sentencing him to 12 months and a day in prison, Judge James Mahan told him: "You have a medical problem. You should not be ashamed or embarrassed about it. You need medication.

"You're not a hardened criminal. You're not evil or a sociopath like a lot of people we have.

"I don't think you wanted to kill anybody. This was just some crazy stunt that your mind told you to do."

Sandford's father, Paul Davey, who also appeared on the show, said he thought the judge was "absolutely fantastic".

"I had worried that with Mr Trump being President-elect that may influence the way that the sentencing went, but the judge was just so aware of Michael's condition," he added.

Sandford became tearful as he addressed the court to apologise for his actions, and said he knows "saying sorry is not enough", adding: "I really do feel awful for what I did.

"I wish there was some way to make things better. I have cost taxpayers so much money. I feel terrible."

Sandford was arrested at the Treasure Island casino in Las Vegas where Mr Trump was addressing 1,500 supporters on June 18.

According to court documents, Sandford told a policeman at the rally that he wanted Mr Trump's autograph before he attempted to seize the officer's gun.

He was tackled by officers and frogmarched from the venue.

During a police interview, when asked why he attempted to grab the weapon, Sandford replied: "To shoot and kill Donald Trump," court records show.

He had driven to Las Vegas from California on June 16, and went to a shooting range the next day, where he said he learned how to use a gun for the first time.

Sandford, who was unemployed and had overstayed his visa, told investigators he expected to die in the attempt on June 18, according to court documents.

He also claimed to have booked tickets for another Trump rally in Phoenix, Arizona, in case he was unable to attempt to take the tycoon's life in Las Vegas, prosecutors said.

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph