A DEPRESSED man threatened his neighbour with a fake gun and said he would blow her house up to provoke police into shooting him dead, a court heard.

Cleveland Police firearms officers showed "great skill" to end the stand-off without killing or seriously injuring 48-year-old Michael Williams, a judge said.

Instead,Teesside Crown court heard on Wednesday (May 14) how the defendant was disarmed after being hit in the chest with a single baton round.

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It was only then that police discovered the weapon was a child's toy.

Officers were called at about 10.20pm on January 24 to Durnford Road, Middlesbrough.

Jenny Haigh, prosecuting, told the court that the call was made by Williams' neighbour who had experienced numerous problems with the defendant.

She told police Williams tried to start a relationship with her but became abusive when she rejected his advances.

On the night in question, he stood in the garden shouting abuse, adding: "I have a gun and I will use it."

Williams then shouted that he would pull the gas pipe out and blow up both their houses.

Mrs Haigh said that when police arrived the defendant barricaded himself in his house, waved the gun at officers and warned them he had a bomb.

She added: "He shouted 'Someone is getting shot tonight', 'just get on with it' and 'one of you is coming with me'."

The court heard the defendant had 30 previous convictions for 73 offences, including assault, wounding and criminal damage.

Uzma Khan, mitigating, said her client had been drinking heavily and could remember little about the night.

She added that Williams suffered from depression and had made three previous attempts to kill himself, adding: "The purpose was to provoke the officers to shoot at him.

"This was someone who accepts that he did cause fear, accepts what the consequences could have been and who wanted those consequences to happen."

Williams pleaded guilty to a charge of possessing an imitation firearm to cause fear of violence and another charge of affray at an earlier hearing.

Sentencing him to 21 months in prison, Judge Howard Crowson told Williams the fake gun looked identical to a real weapon and said: "You acted as if you wanted to harm people with it.

"The police, with great skill, managed to avoid using lethal force."

He was also issued with a restraining order preventing him contacting his former neighbour.