Harrogate businessman avoids prison after waving imitation firearm at boutique hotel owner in row over dogs barking

A Harrogate businessman has been given a suspended sentence after answering his door to a hotel manager while holding what appeared to be a handgun.

York Crown Court heard that boutique B&B The Grafton's owner Mark Addison went to 53-year-old Austin Wildmore's home on Franklin Road after the noise of his dogs barking disturbed hotel guests.

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When Mr Wildmore, the director of an international pet transport company, answered the door during the incident on June 9 last year, he seemed 'very angry' and was holding a weapon which Mr Addison feared could be a revolver.

The incident occurred on Franklin Road in Harrogate

Mr Wildmore then placed the firearm in a kitchen drawer and called one of his dogs inside the house, leaving Mr Addison 'stunned'.

Police attended the scene but established that the weapon was in fact a BB gun loaded with softer plastic cartridges which Mr Wildmore claimed to use for target shooting with his son.

The gun was seized and forfeited and Mr Wildmore later pleaded guilty to possession of an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear or distress.

The businessman's solicitor told the court that his client was 'very aware' of drugs-related crimes and serious incidents in the neighbourhood, and when the doorbell rang believed it could be 'a druggie knocking on the door'. He checked his CCTV and saw Mr Addison, whom he described as a 'skinhead in a state of agitation'.

Sentencing him to eight months in prison suspended for 18 months, deputy circuit judge Tim Clayson said: "The serious factor here is that the gun was on display and pointed at the man. This was utterly out of character - you are a hard-working man devoted to your son. You are unlikely to offend again. You contribute to society and are a family man."

Mr Wildmore, who has no previous convictions, was also ordered to complete 100 hours of unpaid work and pay £220 costs.