Armed police who stormed a Tewkesbury home looking for a weapon were shocked to discover their efforts had all been over a toy. Ian Driscoll was both shocked and stunned when five policemen, including two who were armed, turned up on his doorstep with a search warrant. Acting on intelligence, they demanded to see a mortar tube they believed he had in his home in Margaret Road, Prior’s Park. But their terror alert tip off proved to be badly wrong. The mortar tube was actually a toy which formed part of a picture Ian had posted on his Facebook page.
Ian said that when the police came to his home, he had been stunned. At first he had no idea what they were talking about. “I was shocked and stunned. It was just mad,” he said. “Five officers turned up in unmarked police cars. They flashed the search warrant in my face and said it was lucky I was in so they didn’t have to break my door down. Everyone has been laughing about it and I think it’s funny. It’s so stupid.” The 43-year-old did not even have the toy as it belonged to a friend, who had it in his home in the town centre.
Ian has a dog that he takes for walks and, while at his friend’s house, he noticed he had two toy figures which looked a bit like him and his dog. So he took a photograph of them and, as a bit of fun, made it his profile picture on his Facebook page. But in the corner of the image was the mortar tube toy and it was seemingly this that led to the police raid. Ian said anyone looking at the picture carefully could see that the mortar tube had to be a toy and not real. The scale of it, he said, was clear because there was skirting board and a remote control in the background.
Gloucestershire police spokeswoman Alexa Collicott said: “The information was given to us in good faith and we acted with good intentions. We are sure that the community would rather we acted quickly on information given to us of this nature, in case it had turned out to be a weapon. The officers attending were hugely relieved that it wasn’t anything more sinister and we would much rather have a result like this than to put the public in harms way by not taking action.” She added that the two armed officers only attended in case their technical armoury knowledge was needed.