UK

British Man Michael Sandford Jailed Over Attempt To Shoot Donald Trump

Michael Sandford, 20, sentenced to 12 months and one day in prison.

13/12/2016 19:24 GMT | Updated 14/12/2016 09:03 GMT
David Becker / Reuters
Las Vegas police lead Michael Sandford from the Trump's campaign rally in June.

A British man who tried to grab a policeman’s gun at a Donald Trump rally has been sentenced to 12 months and one day in prison.

Michael Sandford, 20, was sentenced in Las Vegas today after he admitted to being an illegal alien in possession of a firearm and disrupting an official function.

In June, Sandford snatched a policeman’s gun at a Trump rally in Arizona in order to shoot at the then Presidential candidate, who is now the President-elect.

Sandford, who has autism, allegedly told officers after his arrest that his plan was to shoot the business tycoon. He had faced up to 10 years in prison over the assassination plot.

A lawyer for Sandford, federal public defender Brenda Weksler, said she was “happy with the result,” calling the sentence a “fair disposition of the case given the unique circumstances”, Reuters reported.

When asked whether Sandford intended to harm Trump, Weksler said: “Our client is not political at all.”

Sandford admitted as part of the plea deal that he had approached a Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department officer at the event in June, saying he wanted an autograph from the presidential candidate, then tried to pull the officer’s gun from his holster with both hands.

Sandford, who had by then overstayed his tourist visa by about 10 months, was immediately arrested and removed from the rally, the Justice Department said.

He also acknowledged having visited a Las Vegas gun range the day before the campaign incident at the Treasure Island casino-hotel, to take shooting lessons with a rented Glock handgun, firing 20 rounds at a paper target, the Justice Department said.

No mention was made in the plea agreement about whether Sandford intended to harm Trump, then the presumptive Republican nominee in the U.S. presidential race.

Even so, the Justice department said in a statement announcing the prison sentence that “Sandford’s conduct was disorderly and disruptive and required the U.S. Secret Service, other law enforcement, and security personnel to respond to the threat posed by Sandford, whose arrest also disrupted the speech given by Trump”.

His mother, Lynne Sandford, from Dorking, Surrey, had said she was “terrified” Trump would demand a lengthy prison term.

Mrs Sandford said her son feared the Republican may “choose to make an example of him” as she appealed for his return to the UK to receive psychiatric help.

She portrayed her son as a compassionate, child-like man who enjoyed watching “Peppa Pig,” a British television program for preschoolers, and who was bewildered and frightened by his incarceration.

She told the Press Association before the sentencing:

“Michael is terrified. He phoned me 15 times through the night with severe anxiety over what the judge is going to say to him and the sentence he will be given.

“Although he signed a plea agreement, which should mean he receives between 18 and 24 months, the judge is able to overrule that.”