Devon

Fake gun Exeter woman 'moments away' from being shot

A woman who waved two replica guns around in her Devon garden came within moments of being shot by police.

In May this year, Christine Stafford, 49, of Heath Road, Wonford, Exeter, told police she was going to walk into the road and "start shooting".

As a marksman was about to open fire, another officer used a round from a baton gun to disable her.

At Exeter Crown Court Stafford admitted possessing a firearm with intent to cause fear or unlawful violence.

She will be sentenced next month.

The case was was adjourned for reports to be prepared before she is sentenced, but Stafford has been warned she could face a custodial sentence.

The court was told Stafford called police on 31 May warning that if officers did not go, she would walk into the road and start shooting.

Six firearms officers dispatched to the address were confronted by Stafford, who had been drinking.

After being disabled by the baton round and arrested, two imitation guns - a replica Baby Browning and a replica Beretta - were found on the lawn.

Devon and Cornwall Police said the guns had been "frightening realistic".

Det Con Claire Drinnan said: "The woman was waving them around in her front garden which would have been terrifying for anyone in the area.

"The object does not have to be a real weapon to cause fear.

"They were the colour, shape and size of a real gun."

'Very lucky'

At one point the force helicopter tracked Stafford when officers on the ground lost sight of her at the back of her property.

A police source said afterwards: "She was very lucky because one of the marksman was about to open fire at her.

"His colleague fired the plastic baton round which hit her arm. Unusually it broke her arm.

"But these guns look very real when you are staring down the end of a barrel."

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