Police fire plastic bullet to stop 'Samurai swordsman'

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The Independent Online

Police fired a plastic bullet at a man carrying a Samurai sword and a handgun near the home of the actress Penelope Keith yesterday.

Officers discharged a single baton round to disable the man after he was seen brandishing the weapons a few hundred yards from the actress's mansion in Milford, Surrey.

A tactical firearms team was called in when attempts to negotiate with the man failed, and he was shot in the stomach. A spokesman for Surrey Police said: "As a result of him threatening officers, a single baton round was fired to incapacitate him. The suspect was then disarmed, restrained and arrested for making threats to kill."

The 38-year-old man, who has not been named, was taken to Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildford, where he was treated for stomach wounds. Police would not confirm whether the gun was loaded and have not released any details about the man except to say that he was not a juvenile and that his injuries were not life threatening.

The Police Complaints Authority has launched an investigation into the incident, which will be led by Brian Russell, a temporary detective superintendent.

The incident is the second time baton rounds have been deployed on mainland Britain to restrain suspects. A single round was fired at a man in Colwyn, north Wales, last month when he threatened to stab his children.

The four-inch wide bullets, which travel at up to 190mph, have been issued to 36 of the 43 police forces in England and Wales. The Home Office approved their use last year as a non-lethal alternative to live ammunition for police marksmen confronted with dangerous individuals.

Ms Keith, best known for her roles in the television comedies The Good Life and To The Manor Born, has lived in Milford for 24 years with her husband, Rodney Timpson, a former detective. Whether they were at home yesterday is not known. Last week, Ms Keith was inaugurated as High Sheriff of Surrey, an ancient and honorary position that makes her the Queen's official representative in the county.