Gas siege Sunderland man was issuing ‘cry for help’, court told

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A MAN whose cry for help led to a street being evacuated has been remanded in custody.

Mark Nilsson sparked panic after he turned on the gas in his flat in Southwick, Sunderland, and refused to let police in.

Officers, firefighters and paramedics were called to the property above shops in Southwick Road at 10pm last Tuesday.

Fears were raised for Nilsson’s safety as the flat filled with gas.

Officers eventually forced entry to the flat and 30-year-old call centre worker Nilsson was arrested and appeared at Sunderland Magistrates’ Court.

He pleaded guilty to causing a public nuisance.

Glenda Beck, prosecutor, told the court that police received a report that Nilsson had switched his gas on with the intention of harming himself. He refused to open the door to officers, saying he had lost the door key.

Police noticed a strong smell of gas and began evacuating neighbours.

A safety cordon was put up around the terraced street and firefighters and ambulance crews called to the scene.

After he was arrested, Nilsson told police he was feeling “done in and down”.

He rang his partner, who lives in Wallsend, then turned on all four hobs of his gas cooker.

“He did this on purpose, but was unsure whether to harm himself or whether it was a cry for help,” Mrs Beck added. “He left the gas on for about 30 minutes until he heard police knocking at the door.”

Defending Nilsson, who works at Doxford Park, Peter Thubron said he had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder six months earlier.

His GP had given him medication to help him sleep and tackle his depression, but he stopped taking it.

Mr Thubron added: “It does have some side effects and causes slight wooziness.

“He does not enjoy those side effects so stopped taking it about two months ago.

“When the alcohol combined with the depression, he started doing this.”

Magistrates decided the case was too serious for them to deal with and ordered Nilsson be remanded in custody for sentencing at Newcastle Crown Court at a later date.