Huntingdon hospital gun scare man escapes prison term

Hinchingbrooke Hospital was on lock-down following the gun threat.

Hinchingbrooke Hospital was on lock-down following the gun threat. - Credit: Archant

A 72-year-old man who was arrested following a gun scare at Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Huntingdon has been spared being sent to prison for illegally possessing firearms.

Two guns and ammunition were found at the home of Roy Rickard after he had threatened to take a weapon into the hospital where his wife had died shortly before.

Prosecutor Will Noble told Luton Crown Court: “On March 23 last year his wife was rushed to hospital with breathing difficulties and passed away.

“It would seem Mr Rickard was upset with the medical treatment she had received and with those who had taken her to hospital and allowed his emotions to get the better of reason.

“He began to remonstrate to such an extent that he was told the police would be called. He said: ‘You had better make it armed police, I am going to my car to get my gun.’”

Mr Noble added: “The hospital had to be shut down for fear that he might carry out the threat.”

The court was told that the widower did not return to the hospital and police found him at his home – Hilltop House, Little Staughton.

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He was the holder of a shotgun certificate and three weapons were found locked up. However, there were also another two – a gun and a pneumatic air rifle – that were lying around with two different types of ammunition. Those items were not covered by a licence.

He pleaded guilty to two charges of possessing a firearm without a certificate and two charges relating to the ammunition.

Hinchingbrooke was locked down for three hours on the advice of police following a gun threat, but Mr Rickard did not face any charges in relation to that.

At the time, a hospital spokesman said that staff had been shaken by the events.

Judge Stuart Bridge told Rickard today (Friday): “You were faced with tragic circumstances involving the sudden bereavement of your wife, to whom you had been married for 50 years.

“The strict regulation of firearms is of huge importance to our civilised society. There must be a custodial sentence but I will suspend it.

“You did not have the firearms for any illegitimate purpose but they could have found their way, in the event of a burglary, into the hands of those intent on criminal purposes.”

He passed an 18 month prison sentence suspended for two years and ordered Rickard to pay £535 towards the prosecution costs and a £100 victim surcharge.

Daniel Simister, defending said; “He kept guns for vermin control and deer stalking, and attained the age of 72 without being in any trouble with the police. He knows this is the end of him having possession of any firearms.

“He has been through a lot in the last 12 months, and really feels he has nothing left to live for. He was interviewed by police just nine hours after his wife had died.”