Judge calls for ban on imitation guns

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The Independent Online

A judge called for a ban on novelty toys that are made to look like handguns yesterday after hearing how one was used in two carjackings.

Judge Boal was speaking at the Old Bailey as he sentenced a 19-year-old man to six years in prison for taking two cars, apparently at gunpoint, from their owners within the space of four days. Both car owners were said to have been terrified when faced with the weapon.

Lanray Busari, from Hackney, east London, used what appeared to be a silver firearm in the robberies. It turned out to be a cigarette lighter.

Robbers are increasingly using imitation weapons to commit hold-ups. Judge Boal said: "In the current climate, what the justification is for the manufacture and sale of such objects defeats me." He told Busari: "It must be glaringly obvious that such objects might be used in a way you chose to use yours. The sooner they are taken off the market the better."

The first robbery took place in Hackney on 20 September last year. Busari threatened Mehmet Kose with the imitation firearm and forced him to hand over his Ford Fiesta car.

In the second robbery, a BMW valued at £10,000 was taken from Imtiaz Ahmed. Mr Ahmed told the jury he was sitting in the car near his home when Busari came up to him. "He pulled my door wide open and said: 'Get out the car. Leave the keys in the ignition.' At first I thought it was a joke. Then he pulled out the firearm, a handgun, from inside his jacket pocket." Mr Ahmed said Busari tried to run him over as he drove off.

The jury found Busari guilty of two robbery and two imitation firearm charges.

Judge Busari said: "These are precisely the type of robberies that are so prevalent on the streets of the cities. That is why the courts will mete out punishment in order to deter other young men from following your example."