A ROBBER who held armed police at bay with an imitation handgun during a four-hour armed siege had a death wish and had hoped they would shoot him, a court was told.

Aaron Redman, brandished a realistic weapon and repeatedly threatened to kill the officers, while hiding out in a house after holding up Stan James Bookmakers in, Belmont, Durham on Saturday, July 1.

During the siege he went on a wrecking spree, at one point throwing a sofa through a window and into the garden.

Officers, who were convinced the gun was genuine, brought the stand-off to an end when they got into in the house through a back door and used a baton gun to subdue the 30-year-old, Durham Crown Court was told.

Sentencing Redman to 12 years' jail, Judge Simon Hickey said: “In my judgement, the police officers were correct when they were absolutely certain that the gun could well have been a real and feared for their lives.

“It was an extremely serious situation that was taken extremely seriously by police."

The court was told a series of offences began after Redman assaulted a relative he suspected had dishonestly used his disabled brother’s credit card.

Angus Taylor, prosecuting said Redman had gone to Bedfordshire Drive, in Belmont, in an agitated state, where he assaulted the man, kicking and stamping on him repeatedly as he lay on the ground.

When he picked up a football-sized stone he was forced to drop it by the victim's 17-year-old daughter.

A short while later, he walked into the bookmakers and threatened a woman member of staff with what she believed to be a real handgun, before making off with £280 cash.

When police reviewed CCTV they noticed Redman entering the bookmakers an hour before the robbery to carry out a "recce". When he returned, he had changed his clothes and had a hoody pulled over his head. But his face remained exposed and he was identified.

Later that evening, police were alerted he was at a house in nearby Bainbridge Street, Carrville. Redman allowed a woman who was in the house to go after half an hour.

Bryan Mark, mitigating, said alcohol and emotional issues were a factor in the offences.

He said: “He expected to be shot by the police and that is what he hoped on that day. As far as he was concerned that was his death wish. That will tell you something of his state of mind.

“He was somewhat surprised that he wasn’t."

Redman, of Mandela Close, Sunderland, pleaded guilty to nine charges including robbery, threats to kill, assault by beating, criminal damage, and affray. He was made subject to extended licence conditions of four years and a restraining order.