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Trial begins for man at centre of speargun standoff with police

Trial begins for man at centre of speargun standoff with police

Tuesday 09 February 2021

Trial begins for man at centre of speargun standoff with police

A man who pointed two spearguns at armed police officers during a two-hour standoff last May is standing trial in the Royal Court this week.

Although he didn’t fire any of the guns, Robert John Ingram Moon (42) denies two counts of grave and criminal assault against police officers and a charge of affray, all allegedly committed at his home in Richmond Road at La Pouquelaye on 15 May.

This is because the law does not stipulate that an assault requires someone to be hurt for it to be defined as grave and criminal; fear of harm is enough. And affray is defined as a display of force which leaves someone terrified.

On the first day of the trial, held at the Royal Jersey Showground before Deputy Bailiff Robert MacRae, the jury heard from four armed police officers, who were nearest Mr Moon at the time, that they had felt in fear of their lives.

PC Mark Anderson had tried to make contact with Mr Moon by shouting through his front door after no one had answered it. Fearing that Mr Moon’s life might be in danger, the officer opened the door using a key card, only to be confronted by a squatting Mr Moon about 3m away, holding two spearguns pointing towards him.

PC Anderson quickly retreated outside and an armed standoff began.

advocate Adam Harrison

Pictured: Advocate Adam Harrison is defending Mr Moon.

Earlier, Crown Advocate Rebecca Morley-Kirk outlined the chronology of the case. The day before, Mr Moon had threatened a convicted sex offender that he would post their address on Facebook. That man had then called the police claiming harassment.

PC Anderson had gone to Mr Moon’s house and, after initially slamming the front door in the officer’s face, he calmed down and went to Police Headquarters for questioning.

He was released but given a night-time curfew, which angered Mr Moon, so much so that he had to be escorted from the station by five officers.

Later that evening, the Court heard he overdosed on his medication and was taken to hospital. Early the next morning, despite medical staff still concerned for his health, Mr Moon discharged himself and went home, prompting the Hospital to contact the police to ask them to check on his welfare.

The Court was told that this was what PC Anderson was doing, at around 07:00, when Mr Moon held the spearguns pointing towards him. 

For most of the standoff, Mr Moon was standing on a first-floor balcony at the rear of his house holding and pointing the guns towards two armed officers at the front and another two at the rear. 

At times, he held both, at other times he had one. At one point, he went inside and returned pointing what police first thought was a handgun but, due to its red handle, soon deduced it was likely to be a flare gun. It was later identified as a thermal thermometer.

Mr Moon repeatedly asked the officers to “take him out” - something they replied they would not do.

Eventually, a police negotiator speaking to Mr Moon over a telephone convinced him to put down the weapons and leave the house, where he was arrested without a struggle.

With much of the standoff captured on cameras worn by police officers, with the footage being shown to the jury, most of the facts of the case are unchallenged by Mr Moon’s defence lawyer, Advocate Adam Harrison.

However, Mr Moon’s defence and not guilty pleas are based on Jersey’s 2016 Mental Health Law and his capacity at the time. 

On Monday, jurors also heard from the first of a number of medical experts. 

Prosecution witness consultant psychiatrist Dr Gillian O’Brady-Henry, who had treated Mr Moon both before and after the incident, told the court that she believed he had a personality disorder rather than hypomania, or bipolar depression. 

“He may have been frustrated or fed up but he was not in the realm of a bipolar illness; more of a personality disorder,” she said. 

“I believe that he knew what he was doing. When he came onto the ward [at Orchard House, where he was sent afterwards] he said he had played the mental health card. He spoke about the incident and what happened. He said he was angry, he wanted to make a point and he was just playing around.”

Under cross-examination by Advocate Harrison, Dr O’Brady-Henry said that Mr Moon’s “stunts” - including previously threatening to jump from a height into the road - could be associated with hypomania but it was not uncommon for people with personality disorders to behave in this manner too.

His behaviour could also be based on the illegal drugs he was taking, she said.

The trial continues.

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