Briton pleads guilty to Donald Trump Las Vegas gun incident

British man pleads guilty of Donald Trump Las Vegas gun incident

Michael Sandford attempted to grab a police officer's gun at a rally in June and open fire at the candidate (Getty)

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

A British man who tried to grab a police officer's gun at a Donald Trump rally and open fire has pleaded guilty in a bid to avoid a lengthy jail sentence.

Michael Sandford was due to stand trial over the incident at a Las Vegas casino where the Republican presidential hopeful was speaking on June 18.

The 20-year-old from Surrey appeared in court in Nevada on Tuesday, where he pleaded guilty to charges of being an illegal alien in possession of a firearm and disrupting an official function.

Sandford, who had previously denied these charges, faced up to 20 years in jail if he been found guilty of the offences at trial, although the plea bargain may see his sentence significantly shortened.

Under the terms of his plea agreement, he could face between 18 and 27 months in prison before being deported. He is due to learn his fate at a sentencing hearing on December 13. 

His family fear he may still face years in jail. His mother, Lynne Sandford, spoke to the UK Press Association shortly after her son's guilty pleas were entered.

She said: "The upshot of it is that there is no certainty. Even though he has signed the plea agreement, which should be the best option, it won't necessarily happen that way.

"The judge at sentencing can either agree with what is in the plea bargain or he can totally overthrow that and impose a punishment of his own."

Lynne Sandford flew with a UK-based lawyer to her son in custody last week and persuaded him to sign the plea agreement, something she said he had been "pondering" doing for some time. Last week's tearful reunion was the first time the mother-of-two had seen her son since he left for America more than a year ago.

Lawyers acting for Sandford said he suffers seizures, obsession-compulsion, anxiety and autism spectrum disorders and his mother said he was recently diagnosed as having had a psychotic episode at the time of the incident.

"He is now receiving medication for that and he is feeling the benefit of it," she added.

Despite this, when Sandford appeared in court on Tuesday, a judge said he was satisfied that he was fit to enter the plea.

Sandford acknowledged that he has been treated in the past for mental illness.

He said: "I tried to take a gun from a policeman to shoot someone with, and I'm pleading guilty."

Lynne Sandford said her son told her he was "incredibly sorry and remorseful for everything,".

"Everybody says this is not him - this is so opposite to what he is."

"We were able to put our hands side-by-side through the mesh and I could at least feel the warmth of his hands through it. But to travel 5,500 miles and still not be able to give him a hug is incredibly difficult." 

She also spoke to Paul Ross about the charges, listen above.