A FORMER soldier who pulled a gun on a love rival in a packed nightclub has been jailed for 12 months.
Philip Snowden, 26, of Ripon, pointed the firearm at Mark Marsden's head on a busy Saturday night at Monty's nightclub after the two had become involved in a spat over a girl.
York Crown Court heard how Snowden, who served in war zones Bosnia and Kosovo with the Royal Engineers, had a long-running dispute with Mr Marsden, which led to him walking home on the night of the incident to arm himself before returning to the nightclub.
Although the airgun was not loaded, and did not have its gas canister attached – which meant it would have been unable to fire, Snowden was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment after the court concluded his irresponsible actions could have caused panic in the club.
Judge Paul Hoffman said: “This is a serious offence. Because of some ongoing trouble between you and Marsden, you went home, took this weapon, went back to the nightclub and threatened him with it.
“This was in a public area and was visible to others. It had the potential to cause serious alarm. A doorman said he thought the gun was real.
“It cannot be emphasised too much that those who bring guns, imitation or not, in the public arena face a prison sentence.”
Snowden had pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm with intent to cause fear at an earlier hearing.
On Monday the court heard how, on the night of March 10, he had gone from pub to pub with friends before heading to Monty's.
He had been followed by Mr Marsden, said prosecutor, David Garnett, who told the court that Snowden was drunk and had said that he “wanted to scare Marsden and make him go away.”
He left Monty's, picked up an airgun from his home and returned to the club to confront Mr Marsden. He took the replica rifle from his trousers and pointed it at Mr Marsden's head “for a short while” before returning it to the waistband of his trousers.
Mr Marsden made no official complaint to police, but Snowden confessed to his crime the next day and the gun was recovered from his home address.
Officers found no ammunition at his home, and discovered that the gun was unable to fire without the gas canister.
Defending, Jonathan Carroll said his client had been the victim of “substantial provocation” due to Mr Marsden's “perceived slight over a girl”.
He added: “He accepts that he did the most stupid thing, something he bitterly regrets. The gun was only exposed for a brief length of time.
"He made a full and frank confession to the police at the earliest available opportunity and accepted he could have frightened other people in the nightclub.”
As a soldier, Snowden worked in Bosnia and Kosovo helping with the construction of hospitals and bridges in the shattered countries. He had been employed as a joiner after leaving the army.