Jobless man stole pistols at Veteran’s Day

AN UNEMPLYED man stole two pistols from a military fair before biting a police officer and councillor.

Ian Duncan, 60, of Bohemia Road, tried to grab the deactivated guns, which were on show at the Armed Forces Day celebrations in Alexandra Park on June 27 last year.

He was convicted after a trial last Tuesday at Hastings Magistrates Court.

A stallholder from the Etchingham Military and Aviation Preservation Group raised the alarm after Duncan cut through security cables with wirecutters before grabbing the guns.

The stallholder and Mark Charlesworth, who was manning a bouncy castle next to the stand, challenged Duncan but he lashed out and had to be restrained by several bystanders before being arrested.

Councillor Richard Vallery-Peters, secretary of Hastings and St Leonards Veterans Association, which organised the event, was bitten on the hand by Duncan as he was being restrained.

PC Emma Snead was also bitten by the unemployed man as he was led away.

Depite the dramatic turn of events, around 4,000 people, including veterans, serving soldiers and families attended last June’s event.

Duncan was found guilty of one charge of theft, obstructing and resisting arrest and one count of assault by beating.

He denied the three charges at an earlier court hearing.

Duncan must return to court to be sentenced on March 4.

Cllr Vallery-Peters said: “It was a good outcome and I am pleased with the court result but also sad that this incident took place at all, as it was on a day when people were remembering all those who had fallen or have been affected by past and present conflicts.”