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Man who sparked armed police response after pointing imitation firearm outside Norwich nightclub is jailed

PUBLISHED: 18:58 02 February 2018 | UPDATED: 18:58 02 February 2018

Prince of Wales Road

Prince of Wales Road

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A man who prompted armed police to swoop on Norwich's clubland after reports he had pointed a gun at people has been jailed.

Christopher Stephenson. PIC: Submitted by Norfolk Police.Christopher Stephenson. PIC: Submitted by Norfolk Police.

Police were called to Prince of Wales Road in Norwich following information that a man had pointed a firearm at another man outside Mercy nightclub.

Armed officers attended and a man was detained on nearby London Street and arrested.

The man, Christopher Stephenson, 24, was charged with possession of an imitation firearm with intent following the incident, which happened at about 10.25pm on September 22.

Stephenson, of Leiston, Suffolk was due to go on trial at Norwich Crown Court at the end of January but admitted a lesser charge of possession of an imitation firearm in a public place.

Superintendent Dave Marshall, Norwich policing commander, in Prince of Wales Road. Pic: Dan Grimmer.Superintendent Dave Marshall, Norwich policing commander, in Prince of Wales Road. Pic: Dan Grimmer.

He was sentenced to 27 weeks imprisonment.

The case has sparked a warning from police about the dangers of carrying weapons on the streets, even if they are not real.

Superintendent Dave Marshall said: “Carrying a firearm, either genuine or imitation, is highly dangerous and there is no excuse for being in possession of such a weapon. Incidents involving firearms are treated extremely seriously and will involve the deployment of specialist armed officers.

“Anyone who chooses to carry a weapon is putting themselves and others in danger.”

Although not terror-related, the incident came at a time when the country was on high alert following the London Bridge and Borough Market terrorist attack in June which claimed the lived of eight people.

It came less than three months after five people were killed in a similar vehicle-ramming attack in Westminster and less than two weeks after a bombing in Manchester killed 22.

Speaking in September, following the imitation firearm incident, Supt Marshall said: “In context of where we are with the current terrorist threat, we’ve had recent attacks on London Bridge, particularly on the night time economy in Westminster, clearly anyone overtly in possession of a weapon like that in the night time economy is putting themselves at significant risk.

“And also the officers who attend those incidents have to make split-second decisions whether or not to treat that person as a genuine threat or not.”

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