A DRUNK gunman, high on crack cocaine, fired an air weapon at police officers during a stand-off outside a pub.
Steve Cairns had been spotted loading a rifle as he staggered around near the Fox and Hounds, at Hetton.
Police, including an armed response unit, cornered the 36-year-old on a bridle path near the bar, where he was tasered before being arrested.
During the confrontation, Cairns discharged the .22 single shot rifle in the direction of the officers, but nobody was hurt.
Judge Paul Sloan told him: “The offence merits custody because of the risk you posed both to members of the public and to police officers with a potentially lethal weapon when you were drunk.”
Judge Sloan said because Cairns, of Fairy Street in the town, has served the equivalent of a 10-month sentence behind bars, “the time has come to try a more constructive approach.”
Cairns was sentenced to a community order, with supervision for 12 months and an alcohol treatment requirement.
Prosecutor Susan Hirst told the court passers by had contacted the police when they saw Cairns on January 27.
Miss Hirst said: “They noticed he was carrying an air rifle under one arm and a bag under the other. He was staggering around, bumping into a wall.
“One witness, who has experience of firearms and has a licence, noticed the barrel of the weapon was down and the defendant appeared to be loading it.”
The court heard Cairns was initially compliant with police but after the weapon was discharged towards officers he eventually had to be tasered before he could be arrested.
He told police in interview he had gone out to shoot rabbits that day and had not meant to fire the gun at anybody. Cairns admitted affray.
His basis of plea was: “I didn’t deliberately or intentionally discharge the air rifle at the police.
“But I accept what they say, it must have been discharged in their vicinity, this would have been a reckless act.”