Canonbury teen who threatened teacher with imitation gun escapes jail
PUBLISHED: 16:36 20 December 2010 | UPDATED: 16:52 20 December 2010
A TEENAGER who threatened a teacher with an imitation Glock 9mm pistol has escaped jail after the judge heard he was suffering from psychosis at the time of the attack.
Juan Rivas, 19, of Canonbury Road, Canonbury, followed Yuen-Wei Chew as he walked home to the Barbican along Goswell Road, Finsbury, on the evening of May 9 this year.
He then pulled out what appeared to be a black handgun - but was actually a cigarette lighter - and said: “I could shoot you with this. Don’t you think I could shoot you?”
When police arrested him a short distance away he had the imitation weapon in his pocket.
The Old Bailey heard the lighter had the same markings and features as the Glock 17 weapon used by British police.
Mr Chu, who teaches banking students, said in a statement that he was “shocked and terrified”.
“When he pulled out the gun I felt a sudden rush of adrenaline,” he explained. “I thought I was at least going to be hit if not actually shot. I also thought I was going to be mugged for my wallet and phone.”
He said he had to spend £840 on counselling after the incident.
Rivas pleaded guilty to having an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence at the Old Bailey.
But he was spared jail at the Old Bailey after Judge Richard Hawkins QC decided the five year minimum sentence provision did not apply.
The judge said: “It was a cigarette lighter but it certainly looked like a genuine gun and put the victim in great fear.
“Such crimes are regarded seriously by parliament and the court.
“It was submitted to me yesterday it was subject to a minimum sentence of five years unless there are extraordinary circumstances.
“I have raised whether that applies to an imitation firearm, and I have proceeded on the grounds that the provision didn’t apply.”
The court heard that Rivas had been diagnosed as suffering from a “psychosis” at the time of the incident.
Judge Hawkins told Rivas: “You have been treated on medication while on bail. I was told by the doctor that custody would be likely to increase your symptoms.
“The sentence I pass upon you is a community order for a period of two years.”
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