A teenage yob caught with homemade nail bombs who fired through a pregnant woman’s letterbox has avoided jail because he is a “pleasant church-going young man”.
Craig Taylor had been out celebrating his 18th birthday when he attacked the victim’s house in what he claimed was a drunken prank gone wrong.
He banged on the door and shined a torch through the kitchen window before blasting an imitation weapon through the letterbox.
The terrified mum, who was heavily pregnant with her fourth child, bravely opened the window and saw Taylor who she recognised and called police.
Armed officers arrested him at his home and found ammunition and Coke cans with nails stuck on the side which was described as “the start of an IED”.
He told police he had intended to play a prank on another man who was in a relationship with his mum but he got the wrong house in the early hours of January 14.
Taylor, of Coventry, admitted possessing an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence and walked free from Warwick Crown Court on Thursday (17/12).
He was sentenced to 14 months in prison, suspended for 18 months, and was ordered to take part in a rehabilitation activity for 20 days.
Judge Sylvia de Bertodano said she was sparing him jail after the court heard he was a “pleasant young man” and “a valued member of the local church”.
She said: “I don’t believe for a minute we know everything that has gone on that night.
“You went there to scare him, or at least that is your account.
“In fact the address you went to didn’t have a man in it at all. You have got yourself into a great deal of trouble.
“It is right the gun you took out was incapable of firing any kind of projectile, but no-one seeing it would have known that because it looked extremely realistic.
“This is a case that must be marked by a custodial sentence, but given your mitigation
it’s one I’m able to suspend.”
The court heard Taylor had got drunk on his birthday before returning home and arming himself with a blank firing pistol.
Antonie Muller, prosecuting, said: “He loaded it with two blank cartridges, put it in a bag and went out, planning to use it to scare a man called Blake or Blain as a ‘prank.’
“In fact he turned up outside the home of a mother-of-three who was pregnant and almost due to give birth to her fourth child.
“She was at home with her three children when Taylor, wearing a black cap and coat, knocked the door at around midnight, and as he stood outside he fired the pistol, which made a very loud bang.
“It caused her to run to her bedroom window from where she could see a male running off.
“But within minutes he was back. She was still in the bedroom and he was shining a torch through her kitchen window.
“He knocked the door again and opened the letterbox and discharged the pistol through her letterbox.”
The victim called police who scrambled armed officers to the scene where they recovered a spent 9mm cartridge from the gun.
Police swooped on his home in Willenhall in Coventry the next day and caught him hurling the pistol, an imitation Beretta, out the window.
Officers seized an air rifle, two tins of pellets, a hand axe, a black protective vest, a helmet with a torch and a black balaclava.
They also found 24 8mm cartridges, two of which had had ball bearings inserted so they could fire as projectiles.
The court heard there were also two empty Coke cans with nails taped to the sides, which the judge said was “the start of an IED”.
Caroline Harris, defending, said: “Clearly the defendant has the benefit of his guilty plea and is still of a young age, these offences having taken place on his 18th birthday.
“He was co-operative with the police. Albeit he did panic and throw items from the window, he accepted that at the scene.
“He has reflected on this matter and despite his earlier interest in guns, he does not want to be in a similar situation again.
“He tells me the man concerned was a friend of his mother. He went to the address assuming this man lived alone.
“Either he went to the wrong address, or his assumption was wrong.
“He comes across as a pleasant young man and he can still make a contribution to society.
“He is clearly a valued member of the local church, and he as the benefit of a supportive family.”