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Man jailed after confronting Aberdeen thief who stole his bike with imitation handgun

Alan Mitchell, right, leaving court.
Alan Mitchell, right, leaving court.

A man was left sobbing in the dock as he was jailed for pulling a fake handgun on a lout that stole his bike.

Alan Mitchell was physically shaking and began to cry as Sheriff Graham Buchanan ordered he be jailed over the incident, which happened on Balmoral Road.

The 45-year-old had confronted Joseph Gannon, described as a “nuisance” and “well known to the courts”, after Spar staff told him he’d taken his bike from outside the shop on Holburn Street.

Gannon subsequently admitted to stealing the bike and was jailed for the offence.

During the confrontation Mitchell produced an imitation handgun from his waistband and threatened to shoot Gannon in the head.

Fiscal depute Lynne MacVicar told Aberdeen Sheriff Court Gannon is a “chaotic individual who is known to be involved in antisocial behaviour”.

She said Mitchell advised staff at Spar on Holburn Street that his bike had been stolen from outside the shop on July 29 2020.

Staff checked CCTV which showed Gannon taking the bike, and then told Mitchell who it was.

‘Thieving mink’

Around 2.30pm on August 1, Gannon entered the shop but was “ejected” due to previous incidents and walked towards Bloomfield Road.

At the same time, Mitchell was walking towards the shop and staff pointed out Gannon to him.

Ms MacVicar said: “The accused followed the complainer. He shouted at him ‘thieving mink’. The accused was angry.”

Mitchell accused Gannon of stealing his bicycle, which he denied and continued walking.

Ms MacVicar went on: “The accused then pulled an imitation handgun from his waistband and pointed it at the complainer’s face.

‘I think it should be him getting arrested’

“The accused then said ‘you don’t think I’ll do it’. The complainer replied ‘make my day’.”

Mitchell also said “where is my bike?” and “I’m going to shoot you in the head”.

Police were contacted by members of the public who witnessed the confrontation.

Officers traced Mitchell at his flat and found a grey metal BB gun in the kitchen.

In response to being charged, he said: “I think it should be him getting arrested, he stole my bike.

“The only way I could get rid of him was by threatening him with a gun.”

He made full admissions in his police interview and expressed remorse.

Mitchell, of Balmoral Road, Aberdeen, pled guilty to behaving in a threatening or abusive manner.

Gannon, 32, of Jute Street, Aberdeen, previously appeared in court and pled guilty to stealing the bicycle. He was handed a four-month prison sentence.

‘This was a very bad choice’

Defence agent Gregor Kelly said his client had had a “very difficult time during lockdown” and had been isolated.

The solicitor said Mitchell “saw red” after spotting the thief, who he described as a “nuisance” and “well known to the courts” and confronted him.

Mr Kelly said his client had gone into his flat to fetch the BB gun.

He said Mitchell was a small, “nervous” man, while Gannon was a “very large individual who he perceived to be a threat”.

Mr Kelly said: “This was a very bad choice he made indeed.”

He added the bike, worth around £1,000, and which his client used to cycle into town to a music studio regularly, had not been recovered.

Sheriff viewed ‘only a custodial sentence appropriate’

Sheriff Graham Buchanan said: “I can’t say I have huge sympathy for the complainer because he seems to have brought this upon himself, but the accused’s response to it was completely over the top.”

The sheriff said the “really alarming aspect of the whole matter” was that it happened in front of innocent members of the public.

He told Mitchell: “I’m in no doubt whatsoever this is an extremely serious matter because you were in public, within the view of members of the public, holding an imitation handgun and threatening to shoot a man who was in close proximity to you.

“Although, in the whole circumstances, one might not be wholly sympathetic to the complainer, knowing what we know about his behaviour, witnesses must have been highly alarmed by what they witnessed.

“I take the view only a custodial sentence is appropriate.”

He jailed Mitchell for 13 months, leaving him physically shaking and audibly crying in the dock as handcuffs were applied and he was led away.

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