Toy gun family's terror

Mark MistryMarch 14gun400words Plus pic take last week A FOUR-YEAR-OLD S toy gun sparked a major armed police operation in a sleepy cul-de-sac in Worle.

Mark MistryMarch 14gun400words

Plus pic take last week

A FOUR-YEAR-OLD'S toy gun sparked a major armed police operation in a sleepy cul-de-sac in Worle.

Cops cordoned off an area of Roebuck Close after responding to a call from a person who tailed a car from Sainsbury's, in Queens Way, after spotting what was though to be a handgun on its parcel shelf.

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The toddler's mother, Victorija Galinienne, looked on in tears as her boyfriend, Tadas Natuatas, was made to lie face down on the floor while automatic weapons were pointed at him outside his home.

His son, Robertas, aged four, had left the toy in the family's Vauxhall Vectra hours before.

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Police say this is exactly the type of problem caused by fake guns and why they wish manufacturers and shops would but an end to the troublesome industry.

Officers also stress that anyone who has a toy gun is putting themselves at serious risk of being shot by police because they are almost impossible to tell apart.

Tadas, aged 23, who works in warehouses at Avonmouth Docks, had visited Sainsbury's to pick up his weekly copy of the Weston & Somerset Mercury when what the gun was spotted by a curious shopper.

The shopper followed the family back to their home and called the police.

A team of highly-trained officers arrived and cornered off the area before raiding the house.

Tadas said: "I was shocked because I had done nothing wrong. I was made to lie face down on the floor and they put handcuffs on me.

"It is the sort of thing you see only on TV - police with guns surrounding your house. My girlfriend was crying because she had seen me answer the door then held at gunpoint."

Officers searched the house and found toy handguns owned by the Lithuanian couple's son.

Once satisfied there were no illegal firearms, officers gave the family some advice about having fake guns on show.

A police spokesman said: "The safety of the public and police officers is paramount at all times.

"That means reports such as this one resulted in a prompt response from police firearms officers.

"If someone is seen carrying a firearm in a public place, whether it is imitation or not, they risk arrest and prosecution.

"A plastic imitation weapon can look almost identical to a real firearm, which means that people could put themselves at serious risk of being shot."

THE Weston & Somerset Mercury spoke to Avon and Somerset Constabulary's chief firearms instructor, Insp Tim Martin, about the dangers posed by 'toy guns'.

He said: "Any firearm is a real weapon until such time it can be established it is not, which can only be done by physically examining it.

"Colour is not an indication of whether a gun is real or not because they can be painted.

"A police officer is likely to think it is a real weapon and therefore the likely result is that the officer could shoot that person.

"Young people do carry imitation firearms because they think they are safe but that is not the case and the consequences could be dire. I just wish that people would not manufacture them and sell them.

"A contain and call-out operation, where firearms officers surround a property and ask the occupants to come outside in a controlled way, can last for 2 to 3 hours, but can differ between operations.

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