Threat lands `Five Bellies' in prison

Click to follow
THE BEST friend of the footballer Paul Gascoigne, Jimmy "Five Bellies" Gardner, was jailed for six months yesterday after admitting possession of an unloaded air pistol.

At Newcastle Crown Court, Judge Guy Whitburn told Gardner that the use of firearms was a serious matter which the courts could only address with a custodial sentence. Gardner, 34, of Gateshead in Tyne and Wear, had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing after police stopped him on 19 May this year carrying an air pistol. Gardner, who had been drinking, was returning home when he was taunted by a group of youths.

Gardner had "snapped" when the youths called him a "fat bastard" the court heard. He was on his way to confront them with the pistol stuffed in his pocket when he was stopped by police. He was charged with possessing a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence.

For the defence, Geoff Hunter, said that Gardner had never intended to cause harm, only to "shock" his abusers.

Mr Hunter told the judge that the "offence was wholly out of character". He said: "The gun ... wasn't used, it wasn't waved about. Nobody was threatened with it." He handed the judge references from Middlesbrough Football Club chief executive Keith Lamb and Virgin Radio boss Chris Evans.

A friend of Gardner, Albert Tote, said afterwards: "He has been getting taunts for years. He'd had a few pints and that took him over the edge."