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Man in armed stand-off with police claims he is too ill to be convicted

Man in armed stand-off with police claims he is too ill to be convicted

Thursday 11 February 2021

Man in armed stand-off with police claims he is too ill to be convicted

A man who pointed two spearguns at armed police officers last May has told a jury that he can't remember large parts of the two-hour stand-off.

In a landmark Royal Court trial that will test Jersey’s new mental health law for the first time, Robert John Ingram Moon (42) took to the stand to say he hadn’t been well since 2015 and his mental health had deteriorated, especially after the death of his father last January.

Mr Moon is charged with two counts of grave and criminal assault and a single charge of affray, relating to an incident at his home in Richmond Road on 15 May. 

Police had visited his home to check on his welfare after he had taken an overdose the previous day. When one officer opened his front door, he saw Mr Moon crouched in the hallway holding two spearguns that were pointing towards him.

After the police quickly retreated, Mr Moon then appeared on a first-floor balcony at the rear of the property, where he continued to hold one, or both, of the guns.

At one point, he put them down and returned with a device which looked initially like a handgun, but nearby officers suspected it was a flare gun. It later turned out to be a digital thermometer. 

Royal Jersey Showground.jpeg

Pictured: The trial is being held at the Royal Jersey Showground in Trinity.

Eventually, after speaking to a police negotiator, Mr Moon left his house unarmed and was arrested.

While there is little dispute about the events of 15 May, Mr Moon’s defence is based on an article of the 2016 mental health law, which states that, even if the jury agree that he committed the assaults and affray, they have the ability to come to a ‘special verdict’ if they are sure that he was suffering from mental disorder on the day to such a substantial degree, that he ought not to be held criminally responsible.

It is for the defence to prove this is more likely than not, and not the prosecution.

In his evidence, given at the Royal Jersey Showground, Mr Moon said his mental illness had started when he was bullied at work, and he had also seen a television report where a convicted sex offender professed his innocence. 

Some of the victims were known to Mr Moon, so the report greatly upset him.

This became the first of a series of obsessions for Mr Moon, and he was diagnosed with hypomanic bipolar disorder, a condition characterised by mood swings.

He referred to an incident in 2016, when Mr Moon illegally entered the gas works at La Collette and tried to shut it down after smelling gas. 

“I was the man to fix it,” he told the court. “I had the experience to deal with it. You don’t want to come anywhere near a gas leak and the police wouldn’t have known what to do.”

“Afterwards, the doctor diagnosed me as hypomanic and he gave me some medication. I was in solitary confinement at the prison at the time. The switch had been switched in my head and there was no going back.”

Mr Moon went on to say that the months leading up to the stand-off had been particularly stressful, which had aggravated his condition significantly. His mother had died in 2018 and his father in early 2020. 

A relationship with a supportive girlfriend also ended last year and Mr Moon was deeply affected by the covid pandemic. He told the court that, last March, he had researched the virus for three days without sleep and concluded that the Government was not taking it seriously enough.

He bought a full hazmat suit and refused to let his family into the house they shared until they had washed their clothes and hair. This led to the police being called.

“I was ahead of the game; as I generally am,” said Mr Moon. “My doctor said: ‘Rob, you should just let the others catch up with you’.”

Under cross-examination by Crown Advocate Rebecca Morley-Kirk, Mr Moon said he only had a patchy memory of the events on 15 May. He denied aiming the spearguns at a police officer who initially tried to enter his home. 

Rebecca Morley-Kirk

Pictured: Crown Advocate Rebecca Morley-Kirk.

Advocate Morley-Kirk put it to Mr Moon that his actions on the day, as well as his conversations with nearby armed officers, made it clear that he knew what he was doing on the day. 

This included, she said, an awareness of the police tactics, by asking where officers had gone when they disappeared from his view, and intentionally pointing his spearguns at one armed officer who had moved directly under where he was standing.

This was denied by Mr Moon.

The jury also heard a number of witness statements from members of Mr Moon’s family, which recalled his mental decline, before the prosecution and defence summarised their arguments.

Today, the jury will retire to reach a verdict after Deputy Bailiff Robert MacRae summarises the points of law they have to consider. 

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