Belfast Telegraph

Woman pointed replica gun at car with plainclothes police officers inside, court told

The details emerged during a hearing at Belfast High Court on Wednesday
The details emerged during a hearing at Belfast High Court on Wednesday

By Alan Erwin

A woman who allegedly pointed a replica gun at a car stopped at traffic lights in Belfast didn't realise plainclothes police officers were inside, the High Court heard today.

Caroline McDonnell then had to be disarmed because her newly purchased Glock-type pistol was so realistic, prosecutors said.

The 43-year-old, of Cliftonville Avenue in the city, faces a charge of possessing an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence.

A Crown lawyer said the officers were in an unmarked car stopped at the junction of Frederick Street and North Queen Street when McDonnell confronted them on March 29.

During a bail application it was claimed that she walked out onto the pedestrian crossing and deliberately pointed the gun at them.

"The applicant appeared to use eye to aim down the side of the gun and tilt it sideways," the prosecutor said.

Police emerged from the car and challenged her, with one officer partially drawing his own weapon because the Glock looked so real.

The court heard how it was seized from McDonnell and found to be a replica capable of firing small plastic balls.

Inquiries established she had bought it from an army surplus store at Smithfield Market in the city centre earlier that afternoon.

During interviews she made admissions, claiming she had been drinking and didn't understand the seriousness of her actions, according to the prosecution.

The Crown lawyer added: "She said she wasn't aware they were police officers, she apologised and accepted how foolish her actions were." 

Defence barrister Aileen Smyth described her client's behaviour as "bizarre and foolhardy".

"She should have a huge debt of gratitude to the police for their restraint and the manner in which they dealt with the incident," counsel said.

Ms Smyth detailed McDonnell's struggles with alcoholism, telling the court she had gone into town and bought the replica gun after being asked to leave solicitor's offices due to her state of intoxication.

"It's beyond comprehension why she purchased this and saw fit to produce it in a public place," the barrister continued.

Bail was granted on condition that McDonnell attends her GP as part of potential treatment for her addiction.

Mr Justice Huddleston also barred her from possessing any replica weapons or knives.

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