A spurned lover who smashed a car windscreen before threatening two people with “a very realistic imitation firearm” has avoided a prison sentence.
A court heard how Scott Dixon, 25, brought terror to the streets of Blackpool after his relationship broke down and he learned his girlfriend had become involved with another man.
It must have been a very terrifying experience, not only for the victims, but for the people who witnessed it
Dixon turned up on Keswick Road, Blackpool, chased the man, damaged his girlfriend’s car and then threw the gun at them on October 29 last year.
He then fled the scene in an Audi, despite being over the drink drive limit.
Dixon, of Naze Lane East, Freckleton, had admitted affray and drink driving at Preston Crown Court.
But he was spared jail, having never been in trouble before, and now hopes to win back his £41,000 a year manager job with Virgin Trains.
During sentencing at Burnley Crown Court, John Woodward, defending Dixon, said: “The offence was really, totally out of character.”
The court heard Dixon’s relationship with his girlfriend was in a much better place.
Mr Woodward added: “She (Dixon’s girlfriend) blames herself and says what he did he did purely out of love for her.
“They are now very much an item and they are very much hoping for a future together.”
The Gazette reported at the time how a police helicopter was scrambled as officers hunted for the suspected gunman.
One neighbour today said: “People talked about a gunman, it was crazy.”
Judge Anthony Russell QC told Dixon: “It was a very serious offence.
“It must have been a very terrifying experience, not only for the victims, but for the people who witnessed it.
“You had an imitation gun, an air pistol.
“Everyone who saw it must have thought it was a real gun and that they were at risk of serious violence occurring.”
Dixon had initially been charged with possessing an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence, but the prosecution accepted his guilty plea to affray.
He had no previous convictions.
The defendant had been kept in custody for four months before he was released on bail.
Mr Woodward said Dixon had written a “terribly impressive” letter to the court.
He said: “Clearly he is somebody with integrity and intelligence and who understands the legal process.”
He had been earning about £41,000 a year as a manager with Virgin Trains at the time of the offences and his trade union was cautiously optimistic that he may well be taken back, the court heard.
The judge said he had read the defendant’s pre-sentence report and letters handed to the court, including that from the defendant.
Judge Russell added: “They present a picture of a very different person from the one that I have described in relation to your actions on October 29. I accept you were under an enormous amount of pressure at the time because of the breakdown of your relationship and you were very concerned for your girlfriend in the friendship she had formed with another man.
“But everyone needs to recognise that sometimes things go wrong in life concerning relationships and such conduct cannot be justified as a result of this sort of pressure.”
Dixon’s relationship with the girlfriend is now back on and the judge said that this, and Dixon’s support from his trade union and family, reinforced his view that Dixon’s conduct during the incident was “very much out of character”.
Judge Russell sentenced Dixon to a 12-month community order, with 200 hours’ unpaid work.
He was also fined £500, was banned from driving for 12 months and was made subject of a five-year restraining order.
That orders bans him from contacting the male victim and from entering Keswick Road, Blackpool.