Suspected Brighton gunman says sorry for kicking police after sparking helicopter search and road closure
A suspected gunman sparked a police helicopter search across Brighton – and London Road was briefly closed when he was arrested, with buses diverted.
The arrested man, Andrew Fossey, said sorry for his behaviour when he appeared before District Judge Amanda Kelly at Brighton Magistrates’ Court yesterday (Wednesday 7 October).
Fossey, 45, of Upper Lewes Road, Brighton, had already pleaded guilty at a previous hearing to two charges of assaulting an emergency worker.
Police started their search for Fossey at lunchtime on Monday 21 September after calls were received with fears for his safety.
He was understood to be depressed after losing his mother Janice to cancer and had started drinking again, having previously been a problem drinker who had given up.
Firearms officers were sent to Fossey’s flat but it was empty. Armed officers were also spotted near his mother’s old home in Ingham Drive, Coldean, a short while later.
Meanwhile, the police helicopter circled over Lewes Road, The Level, Hanover, Queen’s Park and Whitehawk.
At about 3.20pm, as children were heading home from school, Fossey was found in London Road where he arrested on suspicion of having a firearm.
Natalie Pettifer, prosecuting, told the court: “There was a scuffle after police were called to what they thought was a firearms incident.”
She said that during the arrest Fossey kicked PC Jennifer Stebbing in the stomach. He also kicked one of PC William Winter’s knees.
She added that a statement from the Chief Constable of Sussex, Jo Shiner, had been submitted to the court to explain how being assaulted on the job can affect officers personally.
Police found a suspected firearm at Fossey’s Upper Lewes Road home but he was not charged in relation this.
Josie Sonnessa, defending, said: “There are parts that he doesn’t remember about the incident but he is remorseful and apologises unreservedly to the officers.
“He had a recent relapse into drinking after the loss of his mother. He’s quite an isolated individual.”
She said that as well as being bereaved and having had a drink problem, Fossey suffered mental health problems, including anxiety.
He was visibly distressed when he was arrested in London Road – and the court was told that Fossey had been in trouble before but responded well to a community sentence.
District Judge Kelly said: “Mr Fossey has had a lot to deal with. It’s no excuse but it puts it into a bit of context.
“Any assaults on emergency workers – particularly the police – are viewed extremely seriously. They are doing a difficult job.
“I take into account your remorse, which I believe is genuine, and all your circumstances.
“The officers will have been distressed by what happened and suffered some pain and discomfort.”
District Judge Kelly said that Fossey should pay them £100 compensation each and ordered him to undergo treatment for alcoholism over the next nine months and attend up to 30 rehabilitation sessions.
Fossey said: “I am sorry for my actions and behaviour. They do not make me feel good.”
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