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Rifle threat Man whose son died in accident threatened to kill himself as bailiffs seized farm, court hears

Describing how Norris has led a 'singularly hard working life,' the counsellor revealed that through 'vulture capitalists his loans were bought out and unexpectedly, his life work was taken from him'

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Photo: Stock image

Photo: Stock image

Photo: Stock image

A north Antrim man whose little boy was tragically killed in a farming accident 13 years ago held a rifle under his chin and threatened to kill himself when bailiffs were seizing the family farm , a court heard on Monday.

Coleraine Magistrates Court, sitting in Ballymena, also heard that police officers who had been called to the home of 55-year-old David Norris had to take “hard cover” for their own protection, summoning a police negotiator and support from the police helicopter and an armed response unit.

Appearing in court in person Norris, from the Sconce Road in Articlave, entered guilty pleas to possessing a .22 rifle under suspicious circumstances and breaching his firearms certificate in that he failed to keep the firearm “in a secure store or container” on 23 November last year.

A prosecuting lawyer told the court that when police arrived at the farm, Norris took the rifle out from a wooden box in an outbuilding and “held it to his chin and threatened to kill himself.”

“He screamed at the officers to get off his property, failing to comply with police directions to put the weapon down” and retreated back into the same, said the lawyer adding that while they heard a shot, “they were not aware of being shot at.”

Nevertheless such was the level of threat, the cops “took hard cover” and waited the arrival of the police helicopter, an ARU and a trained negotiator.

Norris was “eventually detained and arrested,” telling cops he “just wanted everyone to go away” and defence counsel Francis Rafferty submitted that the “phrase out of character is never more apposite than now.”

Describing how Norris has led a “singularly hard working life,” the counsellor revealed that through “vulture capitalists his loans were bought out and unexpectedly, his life work was taken from him.”

“Indeed his parents’ life work and what he wanted to pass to his children, something in him snapped,” said Mr Rafferty who told the court “at no stage did he threaten the police or anyone else - the only threat was to himself.”

District Judge Peter King admitted “I’m struggling with the sentence in this case” because given the medical evidence, background facts of “almost unbearable stress” and “glowing references…I’m not terribly sure that a custodial disposal is merited.”

He told Norris the accidental discharge of the shot illustrated the danger of the situation because “that shows how close you were to doing yourself damage - if the weapon had been pointed at your head we would not be having this conversation.”

The judge concluded that “on balance,” he would impose a six month prison sentence but suspend it for a year, telling Norris “I have no hesitation thinking you will not be back.”

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Tragedy struck the Norris family in July 2008 when seven-year-old Andrew Norris died on the farm when he was struck by a tractor and cattle trailer.

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