Man in armed siege wanted to be shot by police: Suicide attempt man jailed for three years

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The Independent Online
A FARM worker deliberately provoked an armed siege because he wanted to be shot dead by trained police marksmen, a court was told yesterday.

But Lester Baker, 41, who took his jacket off to make himself an easier target, failed in his suicide bid when four out of the five police shots missed him. He was jailed for three years for setting up the siege at the home of his wife's wheelchair-bound boyfriend.

Baker's wife Heather and her boyfriend Alan Lindfield, 44, were held for two and a half hours at the house in Heathfield, East Sussex.

At the end of the siege Baker walked into the street with a sawn-off shotgun in his hand hoping to be killed by marksmen from the Sussex Police Special Operations Unit.

When officers opened fire only one of the five shots hit, passing through his liver. Baker needed a kidney removed, and survived after four weeks in hospital.

Sussex Police had said they fired after Baker tried to shoot a police dog. In court Anthony Niblett, for the prosecution, admitted the defendant had never fired his gun. Michael Harrison, for the defence, said: 'It is an unusual and exceptional case. For his exercise to succeed he had to show the police he meant business. But he made it clear throughout his time at the house that he was not going to harm anybody else.'

Mr Harrison told Hove Crown Court, that Baker had previously gone to see Mr Lindfield and went down on his knees and begged for his wife to return.

'Although it was an ordeal it was clear to Mr Lindfield that he was not going to be shot,' Mr Harrison said.

'Five shots were aimed at him and it is truly remarkable that only one hit him. He is extremely fortunate to be alive today. This episode can be set in the context of a distraught suicidal man driven to the end of tolerance by his domestic situation.'

Judge John Gower QC, said: 'I accept that your intention throughout was to bring about a situation where the only course open to the police was the one which they took, which was to shoot you and you meant them to take your own life.

'You caused police officers what I expect is the most unpleasant duty they are called on to do and that is to shoot another human being. However bizarre it must seem your motive was what happened, which was . . . to get shot.'

Baker, of Dallington, East Sussex, admitted false imprisonment, shortening a shotgun and illegal possession of the weapon.