In the Media

RAF worker with gun was 'prat', says judge

PUBLISHED March 27, 2012

James Wilkinson, who is based at RAF Coningsby, was sitting in traffic in a red Citroen Saxo when he made eye contact with the driver.

He then leaned forward, picked up what appeared to be a chrome and black handgun and pointed it at him.

The lorry driver, Simon Hutchinson, took down the Saxo's number plate as the car drove away.

Police later found a fake gun, capable of firing 6mm plastic ball-bearing pellets, in a box in the car's footwell.

Wilkinson, from Calverton, Notts, was branded "a prat" and "an idiot" by two judges when he appeared at Nottingham Crown Court.

When he pleaded guilty to affray before Judge John Burgess last month, he called him a "prat".

Jonathan Straw, mitigating, had said: "It seems the general consensus is he is, for want of a better word, a prat.

Judge Burgess agreed: "Prat is a good word."

Then, at his sentencing hearing this week, Judge Andrew Hamilton told Wilkinson he had acted as "a complete idiot for a couple of seconds".

He said the lorry driver was not to know Wilkinson was not a criminal who was about to commit a serious offence.

And he ordered the 20-year-old to pay £200 compensation to Mr Hutchinson - not only for the momentary fear but also for reporting him. Wilkinson will have to pay £600 court costs and do 100 hours of unpaid work over the next year.

He offended after being in the RAF for four years.He was not on duty when the incident happened in London Road, Newark, on July 23 last year.

Mark Knowles, who mitigated at the sentencing hearing as opposed to Jonathan Straw at the earlier hearing, said on Wilkinson's behalf: "This was a moment of madness from his point of view."

Wilkinson's flight lieutenant attended court with him.Mr Knowles said any form of custodial sentence would result in his client's discharge from the RAF.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman confirmed after the hearing that Wilkinson, who is based at RAF Coningsby, Lincoln, will be facing disciplinary action as a result of the incident.