A CHADWELL man was jailed for three years after holding two work colleagues hostage in an armed siege at an Orsett farm.
Paul Smethurst, 35, Godman Road, Chadwell St Mary pleaded guilty to charges of false imprisonment and possession of imitation firearms at Basildon Crown Court.
The court heard that Smethurst kidnapped the two colleagues and confined them in a portable cabin at the premises in the Ongar Hall Farm estate, Brentwood Road, Orsett around 2.40pm on Thursday July 7th last year.
Armed police surrounded the building and a police helicopter monitored proceedings overhead whilst Smethurst kept the men at bay with two imitation firearms and a knife.
Prosecuting barrister Anthony Abell told the court that during the siege, Smethurst became increasingly agitated, banging his head against the meshed windows, self-harming and waving his gun around.
Not only were the two men who were abducted in a state of fear but so were their wives who were on the premises and were watching events unravel on cctv.
With the scene becoming increasingly tense, armed officers were having to make a decision whether to shoot or not.
Eventually, Smethurst dropped the firearm and it was thrown to safety by one of the abductees. The armed officers stormed the cabin and arrested him.
In mitigation, Smethurst’s barrister told the court that he had been suffering from anxiety attacks, sleeplessness and increasing problems with alcohol for some time.
With his whole family in court for support, the court heard that Smethurst became increasingly agitated at work.
Judge John Lodge heard that his employers, supported him, gave him time off and at one stage, he spent time in Basildon hospital at a mental health unit.
The court also heard that whilst on remand in HMP Chelmsford, Smethurst had been a model prisoner.
Sentencing Smethurst to three years in prison, Judge Lodge said: “I am confident that the Paul Smethurst I see in front of me today is a different man than the one who committed these offences.
“However these are serious crimes and caused a great deal of anguish and distress, not only to the two men you abducted but also to their wives who looked on nearby.”