Man produced air gun as he wanted police to shoot him, court told

Samuel David Ferris asked receptionist in Belfast’s Royal Victoria Hospital to call PSNI

Samuel David Ferris produced the weapon and asked a receptionist in the Royal Victoria Hospital’s accident and emergency department to call the PSNI, a judge was told. File photograph: The Irish Times

Samuel David Ferris produced the weapon and asked a receptionist in the Royal Victoria Hospital’s accident and emergency department to call the PSNI, a judge was told. File photograph: The Irish Times

 

A man allegedly brought an air gun into a Belfast hospital because he wanted police to shoot him, a court has heard.

Samuel David Ferris produced the weapon and asked a receptionist in the Royal Victoria Hospital’s accident and emergency department to call the PSNI, a judge was told.

The 26-year-old faces charges of possessing a firearm in a public place, having it without a certificate and with intent to cause fear of violence.

Mr Ferris, of Princes Crescent in Newtownabbey, Co Antrim, is also accused of failing to comply with previous police bail conditions set following the incident earlier this year.

Risk of reoffending

As he appeared before Belfast Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, an investigating police officer opposed his re-release due to the risk of reoffending.

She said: “He has stated during interview that he had a weapon so police would shoot him.”

Mr Ferris allegedly had the .22 gas powered air pistol on him when he walked from a house in the Village area to the hospital on March 18th.

Defence solicitor Feargal MacElhatton told the court his client has major psychiatric difficulties.

He argued the weapon was only a pellet-type gun.

District Judge Fiona Bagnall responded: “For either members of staff or members of the public, I don’t know if they would quite recognise the subtleties.”

Mr MacElhatton said the incident initially appeared to have been far worse than it was.

“When you look at this it looks majorly insane,” the lawyer said.

“But when he arrives he takes it [the air gun] out of his pocket, sets it sideways, not pointing it at people, and indicates ‘Can you call police for me please?’”

Waited for officers

Mr Ferris then took the weapon back, walked away and waited for officers to arrive, the court heard.

“The indication from the time was he wanted to commit suicide. He thought police would assist him with that,” Mr MacElhatton added.

Ms Bagnall was told Mr Ferris is now receiving treatment for his mental health issues.

She agreed to grant him bail to live at his mother’s home in south Belfast.

Ordering the accused to return to court in four weeks’ time, the judge banned him from entering the Royal’s A&E department except for any medical reasons.