Nuneaton man pleads guilty to taking hostages at Bermuda Park bowling alley

David Clarke pleaded guilty to holding two people hostage at gunpoint

Clarke will be sentenced on March 2

Friday, January 12, 2018

A Nuneaton man has admitted to imprisoning two people at gunpoint at a local bowling alley in October 2017.

Appearing at Warwick Crown Court today, David Clarke, aged 53, pleaded guilty to two counts of false imprisonment, one count of possession of a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence, one count of possession of an imitation firearm with intent to commit an indictable offence, two counts of possession of a bladed article in a public place and one count of criminal damage.

The guilty plea comes three months after Clarke made national headlines by creating the hostage situation at Bermuda Park, spreading panic among the packed crowds.

On the afternoon of 22 October, Clarke went into the bowling alley with a decommissioned sawn-off shotgun, samurai sword and knife looking for someone with whom he'd had a dispute. He could not find the person he was looking for and instead took two other people hostage.

Reports started to come into police at 2.32pm and armed officers were deployed to the scene. The large-scale policing operations was led by the Warwickshire Police and West Mercia Police Tactical Firearms Unit.

At 6.33pm, as concern for the hostages increased, armed police stormed the building, arresting Clarke and releasing the two hostages unharmed.

Chief Superintendent Alex Franklin-Smith said: "Clarke will have realised the impact his selfish actions would have on the victims and the many people and families who were out enjoying the start of the school half-term holiday.

"Fortunately, incidents of this nature are extremely rare, but our officers train for such events and when they were called upon to put their training into practice they most certainly did with the utmost bravery, skill and professionalism. On behalf of Warwickshire Police I would like to thank all of the emergency services who were involved in bringing this incident to a safe conclusion.

"I'd also like to recognise the investigation team who worked around the clock to ensure Clarke was promptly charged and remanded in custody. The thoroughness of their investigation and the strength of evidence they presented has led to today's guilty plea.

"Finally, I would like to thank the many people who were caught up in this event for their calmness, cooperation and support on the day. The situation was fast moving, dynamic and attracted significant local, national and international interest. The incident brought out the best in the people of Nuneaton. Local businesses providing refuge for people caught up in the events and local taxi and bus companies providing people with free lifts home were just some of the examples of how the local community pulled together.

"The many messages of thanks and support we have received from the public have been overwhelming and today's sentencing is testament to the work of everyone involved in bringing Clarke to justice."

Judge Andrew Lockhart QC adjourned for presentencing reports, ahead of sentencing on March 2 2018. Lockhart warned Clarke to expect "a significant and lengthy prison sentence".