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Armed individual engages in terrifying confrontation, shooting at Police

IN A SHOCKING incident last year, a 47-year-old man, Shaun Wakefield, experiencing drug-induced psychosis, unleashed a wave of terror in Newport, firing an air rifle at police and setting fire to his own flat. The unsettling events unfolded on April 5, 2023, and were detailed during a sentencing hearing at Cardiff Crown Court on Thursday.

As captured in disturbing footage by a neighbor, Wakefield brandished the firearm at police officers who were attempting to diffuse the tense situation. The court heard that the defendant’s erratic behavior was driven by underlying mental health issues, as described by his wife. She recounted an incident in a taxi where Wakefield attempted self-harm, grabbing the wheel and making paranoid comments.

Upon reaching their flat, the situation escalated further as Wakefield allegedly pushed his wife to the floor, threatening, “You’re going to burn b****. I’m going to leave us all in here, and we’re going to die,” referring to himself, his wife, and their dog. Alarmed, the wife sought refuge for herself and the dog in a neighbor’s flat, prompting a call to the police.

Responding to the call, the police encountered a chaotic scene. Wakefield had activated fire alarms, and his wife, witnessing him holding a knife, feared for their safety. Attempting to gain access to the neighbor’s flat, Wakefield kicked the door down but was eventually fought off. As he retreated, his wife glimpsed the tip of an air rifle, raising further concerns.

The situation intensified as police arrived at the block of flats, with Wakefield outside, armed with what appeared to be a firearm. Unaware that it was an air rifle, officers expressed genuine concern for their safety and that of the public. Shouting commands to drop the weapon, Wakefield refused, threatening members of the public who fled in fear. A bystander captured the tense standoff on video, highlighting the gravity of the situation.

In a dramatic turn, Wakefield discharged the air rifle at a police car and pointed it at an officer, narrowly missing his intended target. The subsequent inspection of Wakefield’s flat revealed minimal fire damage, as the fire had already been extinguished before emergency services arrived. Wakefield later pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence, arson, and criminal damage, with a prior unrelated conviction from 1997.

During the sentencing, the defense argued that Wakefield’s actions were a result of mental health issues, including depression and psychosis, exacerbated by cannabis use and non-compliance with prescribed medication. Ben Waters, the defense barrister, revealed that Wakefield had intended to provoke the police to shoot him dead as a form of self-harm.

Acknowledging the defendant’s mental health struggles, Judge Simon Mills emphasized the need for compliance with prescribed medication and discouraged self-medication with illegal substances. Despite expressing sympathy for mental health challenges, the judge highlighted the potential harm Wakefield posed to the public during episodes of mental ill health.

In light of these circumstances, Shaun Wakefield received a sentence of four years and eight months imprisonment. He is expected to serve half of the sentence in custody, with the remaining period to be served on license upon his release. The case serves as a stark reminder of the complex intersection between mental health, substance abuse, and criminal behavior, underscoring the challenges faced by individuals in crisis and the responsibility of society to address these issues.