TERRIFIED shop assistants heard someone shouting “he’s got a gun” as a fight broke out between a group of travellers and Polish men in Wrexham.
Judge Niclas Parry, sitting at Mold Crown Court, warned that “vigilante behaviour” would not be tolerated after the two gangs planned to sort out a personal dispute with violence on the streets of the town.
Polish man Mariusz Raduszynski had arrived as ‘back-up’ carrying an imitation firearm – a loaded .177 BB gun – which he had tucked into his trouser top, Mr Parry said.
Both Michael Berry, 58, of Berrylands Holmstead, Wrexham, and Raduszynski, 33, of Fisher Road, Blacon, Chester, both pleaded guilty to possession of an imitation firearm.
Prosecutor Jayne La Grua said following an argument at a car boot sale between “some Polish lads” and a group of travellers, it had been arranged to sort things out at a meeting outside a Wrexham gym.
On July 1 at 1.30pm, a shop assistant in Chester Street heard raised voices and saw a group of about 20 travellers outside the gym.
She could see Raduszynski standing at the gym door with something protruding from the waist band of his trousers.
Another shop assistant heard a woman scream: “He’s got a gun!”
She saw Raduszynski being pulled to the floor and several men jumping on him.
Berry removed the handgun and began hitting Raduszynski on the head with it.
The prosecution said that Berry was seen raising the gun and pointing it at Raduszynski, who ran away.
Berry then gave the gun to someone at a shop to give to the police.
Officers arrived and cordoned off the area and removed shoppers from the scene.
Sara Haque, defending, said Raduszynski accepted carrying the gun but denied he had taken it to a pre-arranged fight.
He was called to give evidence in support of his claim, where he said he had bought the gun legitimately and that afternoon he was accompanying a friend to a hospital appointment but had “been silly” and taken the gun to show to another friend later.
His wife was with him in the car and he said he would never have taken his wife along knowing he was going to be possibly involved in a fight. He claimed the gun had only become visible when someone had pushed him.
Jonathan Duffy, for Berry, said: “Isn’t it the truth that you had the gun because you knew there was likely to be trouble. You lifted your top to show the gun and said ‘D on’t mess with the Polish’?”
The defendant replied: “That’s not true.”
Miss La Grua said Raduszynski’s friend’s hospital appointment was for 1.30pm yet he was at the gym at 1.30pm.
“You knew perfectly well your friend was going to a fight and you were going there to back it up,” she said.
“No, I would never have taken my wife with me,” replied Raduszynski.
Mr Parry said he accepted Raduszynski was not part of the trouble at the car boot sale but he did not accept his story that he was taking the gun to show a friend and that it had nothing to do with the fight.
He told both men: “You brought your personal dispute into the public arena, a pre-planned meeting between two gangs with violence in mind. “Raduszynski brought a gun, an imitation firearm. You were there as back-up.
“It is clear from witnesses they were alarmed at seeing the gun.
“Mr Berry quite understandably jumped on Mr Raduszynski and grabbed the gun but went far further than necessary, causing extreme alarm.
“You lost it, waving the gun around.
“Vigilante behaviour, which was clearly shocking, will not be tolerated on the streets of Wrexham.”
He sentenced Berry to eight months in prison, suspended for 12 months, and ordered he be put under curfew between 6.30pm and 6am until March 10.
Raduszynski received the same curfew and was also given an eight-month suspended sentence but also ordered to carry out 120 hours of unpaid work.
It was also ordered that the gun be destroyed.