Every word judge said to Showcase Cinema gunman Leslie Garrett as he was jailed

Leslie Garrett was today jailed for 14 years.

The 49-year-old, of Ternhall Road in Fazakerley, raided Sangha's newsagents in Norris Green in his flip flops and shot into a protective screen with an AK47 on the evening of January 3 this year. He then went for a drink in the Western Approaches pub before continuing onwards to the Showcase Cinema in Croxteth, where he had worked as a security guard before losing his job three months earlier for "being under the influence of alcohol", and firing further shots outside.

Garrett, who was heard to shout "k***head" as he left the dock after learning his fate, was also handed an additional four years on licence. This is every word Judge David Aubrey KC told him as he locked him up this afternoon:

READ MORE: Live updates as Leslie Garrett sentenced over Showcase Cinema shooting

READ MORE: Woman's 'legs felt like jelly' when man in flip flops walked into cinema with AK47

On the second of February 2024, you pleaded guilty to the eight counts, the subject of the indictment. You had indicated those pleas in the lower court.

You served a basis of plea, stating at the time of the offences you had agreed to mind a firearm and ammunition. You were in possession of the items for longer than you anticipated and that caused you stress and anxiety.

It is stated that you committed the offences because you wished to be killed by the police. The case was adjourned for a two-day Newton hearing.

The court heard evidence yesterday within that hearing and thereafter mitigation on your behalf. The offences were all committed on the third of January 2024.

Count one is an offence of possession of a rifle with intent to endanger life, count two an offence of possession of ammunition with intent to endanger life, counts three and four are offences of possession of the rifle with intent to cause fear of violence, counts five to seven are all possession of ammunition without a firearms certificate and, finally, count eight is an offence of attempted robbery. You now fall to be sentenced for those offences, but before I turn to the basis upon which you will be sentenced, your culpability, your mitigation and the law the court must apply, I turn to the facts.

Counts one, two and eight are the subject of that which you did at about 7.30pm at a local news and convenience store on Lower Lane in Norris Green. Amandeep Singh was working as a shop assistant in the store.

At the time, the store was empty and Mr Singh was behind the counter. You were wearing a long green anorak, your hood was up concealing your face and, bizarrely, you were wearing flip flops.

You were about five to seven feet away from Mr Singh and shouted: "Come on. Money."

You then produced and raised a large automatic rifle, a lethal weapon, and pointed it at Mr Singh. He believed he was going to get shot and lose his life and believed, such was his fear, that you then fired it in his direction, although the footage may suggest otherwise.

The stills from the footage, and indeed the footage itself, however graphically show your chilling acts. He was able to run into the stock room but did so in trepidation.

He believed he was going to be killed and describes his heart beating out of his chest and never being so scared in his life. This was not an isolated offence of endangering the life of another and causing panic and trepidation to others, it was the beginning of what can only be described as a campaign of terror and fear and causing mayhem, during which many lives were potentially put at risk by your actions.

It is fortunate there were no fatalities that night and there was that night, in consequence of your actions, a high risk of death, or at the very least someone being seriously injured. You got into your car and drove at speed to the Western public house.

There, you chatted, it would appear, calmly and rationally to customers before leaving. As you walked to the car, you showed the gun which had been left in the car to two males before they retreated.

You then drove to the Showcase Cinema on the East Lancashire Road, which is the subject of count three, arriving at about 8.45pm. You knew that cinema.

You used to work there as a security guard, but lost your job after complaints had been made about your conduct to other members of staff. In my judgment, that is no coincidence you went to that location.

Danielle Mea was working as a cashier behind the ticket desk and Philip Smith, a security guard, was nearby. You approached the ticket desk, again concealing your face.

Again, you were not only holding the rifle but pointing it at her. It was some two to three feet away from her.

At that time, she initially thought it was a joke. It was anything but.

Mr Smith told you to "drop the peashooter and don't point it at her". In a low voice, you said "come see" and gestured for him to follow you outside into the car park.

Once outside, you turned around with the gun and fired it. Mr Smith does not know in which direction you fired it, but he shouted back at Ms Mea - whose legs by this time were trembling like jelly - "get down, get out".

You then fired the gun a second time, this time into the air. You proceeded to fire multiple shots into the air before driving away at speed.

No less than 12 shell casings were recovered. Armed police arrived to manage the scene and those at the cinema.

Customers were obliged to remain in the cinema for their own safety. Mr Smith describes himself as a shell of the man he once was.

You then went to a shop, your face now not concealed. You had left the firearm in the car and bought two mini bottles of vodka before you went to your partner's address in Malpas Road in Croxteth.

There, shortly after 10pm in the front garden of number five, you proceeded to fire your rifle on a number of occasions into the air. Residents heard gunshots, four in total.

A distressed child was awoken. Armed police attended at the scene.

Your partner told the police that you had been arguing and you had been drinking. It was you who had fired the rifle into the air and you had gone to your mother's home.

Four shell casings were found in the front garden of number five. In her statement, she mentions that you had an interest in firearms and kept the rifle under the bed although she had never seen you use it.

The AK47 rifle was subsequently found at the address, as were no less than 333 cartridges, of which only one was compatible with use in the rifle. Armed police, with negotiators, arrived at your mother's home at 4. 40am.

Your mother first opened the door. She left the premises at the instructions of the police.

You then came to the door wearing a t-shirt and shorts. Armed police pointed their firearms at you.

You were agitated and aggressive and told the police to f*** off. You were instructed to surrender and the officers, being concerned that you might arm yourself or barricade yourself in, took the decision to taser you before you were arrested.

The court must first determine the basis upon which you will be sentenced, and thereafter whether in consequence of those findings your culpability is reduced and if so to what extent. During the Newton hearing, I have heard evidence from you and two psychiatrists - Dr Qurashi on behalf of the defence and Dr Raviraj on behalf of the prosecution.

I have also read their reports. I summarise your evidence.

You outlined your traumatic experiences when you were a child. They are referred to in the reports and it is not necessary to repeat those tragic incidents that you witnessed or experienced.

You gave evidence that things get on top of you, you felt worthless, you have suicidal thoughts and you would go into autopilot. You were prescribed medication in 2016, but decided not to take it.

You accepted that you were angry at losing your employment at the Showcase Cinema but did not blame any individuals. You stated that two males had approached you whilst you were living in a car and asked to mind a bag.

You subsequently discovered what was in it. You stated that you put it in the boot of your car, and there it remained until the day of the offences.

As to the offences themselves, a common theme was that you did not know what your intention and motivation was that night. You do not remember much of that which occurred, but your intentions were not to hurt anybody and you did not go into the newsagents to steal.

You did not say in evidence that it was your intention to place yourself into a position whereby armed police would be left with no alternative but to shoot you and, in fact, you have never said that was so to anybody who has interviewed you. It is Dr Qurashi who has come to that conclusion, and I now deal with the psychiatric evidence.

Dr Qurashi took a history from you in which you described having constant thoughts of death and dying, apathy but not suicidal thoughts. You stated that you felt you had lost everything - your job, your home - and, at the time of the offences, it was 20 minutes of madness and you were not thinking straight.

Of some significance is that you also stated that you felt angry at the time. He opines that you were suffering from PTSD, you were experiencing a recurrent, severe depressive episode and on the verge of developing a psychotic illness.

He states that it is likely that your actions were in large part due to a severe depressive episode and, with your consumption of alcohol, your actions were an unconscious attempt to elicit a police response to cause you fatal harm. He speaks of your undiagnosed and untreated severe depressive episode, which at the time led to what he describes as your ruminative thoughts of self harm.

In an addendum dated the fourth of April, it is his opinion that your culpability was substantially reduced and there is a plausible connection between your symptoms of mental disorder and your offences. He was also asked for his opinion as to the risk you pose, which the court will revisit later.

Dr Qurashi was in court whilst you gave evidence, and he gave evidence that your evidence confirmed his opinion - emphasising there is a history of significant self harm. You had rung the police in December 2023 describing suicidal thinking.

They were cries for help, and the events that night were, in his words, as a result of severe depression and you were, maybe unconsciously, looking to be caught. He described the events as escalatory.

The relevant factors were multifaceted and, in his opinion, you would not have taken the gun out with you had you not been severely depressed. He concluded his evidence by stating that, in his view, this was a case of suicide by cop, and the fact that you had not mentioned to him that that was your intention only strengthens his opinion.

Dr Raviraj's opinion is that you suffer from moderate depression with comorbid alcohol problems, and that you have underlying features of emotionally unstable and dissocial personality traits. He was not satisfied you were severely depressed at the time and is not convinced you are suffering from PTSD symptoms - there being no evidence you had suffered from flashbacks - although accepting your medical history has references to you stating you had feelings of being lost, had fleeting suicidal thoughts and often felt you were on auto pilot.

You gave to him an account of that which you did, stating it was not your intention to hurt anyone, and you were feeling angry and upset. You told him that, when you were arrested, you said to the police you would give a reason for them to shoot you and you believed the police were going to taser you - as indeed they did.

He does not agree that you were seeking to elicit a response by police officers in consequence of your behaviour that night, in what has colloquially been referred to as suicide by cop. It is thus agreed that you were suffering from a depressive illness and that you have a history of trauma.

The extent of your depressive illness and any causal link between your illness and the offences is not agreed. In particular, Dr Qurashi's opinion is that your culpability was reduced at the time of the offences because of a severe depressive episode.

Dr Raviraj's opinion is that it is not, and the motivation is not what has been called suicide by cop. The first issue is whether, in accordance with your basis of plea, you were minding the relevant items

Secondly, and principally, whether you did that which you did because you placed yourself in a position whereby you wished to be killed by the police and indeed anticipated you would be. In my judgment, it is necessary in the circumstances of your case to determine both issues, irrespective as to whether it impacts upon your culpability.

Whilst I believe such a determination is upon the defence to prove, on the balance of probabilities, that you sought to place yourself in a position whereby the police would kill you, I make the findings applying the criminal burden and standard of proof. You claim that you were minding the rifle on behalf of another and state that, whilst you were sleeping in a car, you were approached by others you did not know.

You told the probation officer it was an associate. You were given a bundle or a bag as you said in evidence, and you placed it in the boot of your car not knowing at that time what it was or that it was illegal.

The court cannot and does not accept that implausible account and rejects it. Precisely how you came to be in possession of the rifle and considerable amount of ammunition cannot be determined but in any event, in my judgment, it does not impact on your culpability as you yourself stated in evidence that the firearm and ammunition had been in your possession for three months.

Thus, I turn to the primary issues upon which this court must make findings. I remind myself at the outset that you have pleaded guilty to attempted robbery at the convenience store, and thus by your own admission there was a financial motivation that night - although you now state in evidence money was not the motivation.

You were, at the time, in a desperate financial position. You also now claim you did not wish to hurt anyone.

Again, you have pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm and ammunition with intent to endanger life. You have also admitted by your pleas to counts three and four that you intended to cause fear of violence.

For the avoidance of any doubt, I am sure that on the night in question and at the time those essential elements of each offence were uppermost in your mind. Further, much of the evidence you gave to the court is inconsistent with the evidence and undisputed facts in this case.

I cite but a few examples. In evidence, you stated that you put your hood up because it was cold.

I am satisfied that was not the reason. You did so as you were walking into the shop to conceal yourself, as you did likewise at the cinema.

You deny you showed the firearm to two males at the public house. The footage shows you did.

I am satisfied you were showing off at the time and had a feeling of power. You claim you do not know why you went to the cinema.

I am satisfied you went there in consequence of a grudge and grievance because you had been dismissed, having worked there for a number of years. I am also satisfied that there certainly came a time when you were storing the firearm under the bed at your girlfriend's house, which is where it was discovered and where you had left it with the ammunition.

None of the above necessarily impacts upon the findings I must make as to whether you intended the police to kill you that night, and so I turn to my findings. Whilst you may have complex mental health issues and, in part, you may have been seeking attention that night, I am satisfied that at the time of the offences you were not suffering from a severe depressive disorder, verging on the psychotic, but had a moderate depressive disorder and were emotionally unstable.

Mr Lewis, on your behalf, has criticised Dr Raviraj and the route by which he came to his opinion. I am satisfied you were not suffering from any form of specific post traumatic stress disorder at the time of the commission of the offences, and certainly none that was a causal link to these offences.

I have read with care Dr Qurashi's report and of course listened to his evidence with care. However, whilst the court accepts that you have been subject to childhood trauma and have experienced difficulties with your mental health, in my judgment those factors were not the motivation in the commission of these offences.

You told the probation officer that you were upset and angry at the time. You then drank a considerable amount of alcohol before embarking on that which you did.

Anger, alcohol and resentment are constant themes and I am satisfied they were the catalysts for that which you did. You were under the influence of alcohol at the time of the offences.

The first offence you committed was financially motivated and your face was concealed. You fled from the scene, as you did from others - including the cinema, from where you sped off in your car and from where you had been dismissed from your employment.

I note that you, and you are a proud man, said to the probation officer when she interviewed you for the purposes of the pre-sentence report that you felt humiliated and embarrassed when your employment at the cinema was terminated. You did not say to her, who was the first professional to interview you, that you did that which you did in order to be killed by the police.

You had left the firearm at your partner's before going to your mother's, where you were arrested. You were aware that the police would be searching for you.

You did not threaten the trained armed police officers at the time of your arrest and gave no indication after your arrest that you were hoping the police would kill you. Indeed, to the professionals, you stated you believed you would be tasered.

With respect to Dr Qurashi's opinion and evidence, he places reliance on the escalation of events. But, in my judgment, there came a time when there was a de-escalation.

There came a time when you went to your girlfriend's and hid the firearm under the bed before going to your mother's. You left three scenes that night before any police officers arrived.

You did not want to be apprehended. Had you wished to place yourself in a position whereby the police had to act, you could have done so.

You did not. When the police confronted you, you were unarmed and told the police to f*** off.

You did not threaten them or offer violence. Dr Qurashi said in evidence that his opinion was his formulation of the events and your history.

I am satisfied that, whilst it is his formulation, the foundation is speculation and theory which the court rejects. I am satisfied his opinion does not live with the undisputed facts and history of the case.

In evidence, he was reminded that you had left the scene of each discharge of the firearm and he conceded he would have expected you to remain had you wished to be killed, consciously or subconsciously, that night by the police. He was of the view that that did not fatally undermine his opinion and formulation.

In my judgment, it does. You could have engineered contact with the police if you had so wished.

I am satisfied that you were not seeking to place yourself in a position where trained police officers would have had no alternative but to take drastic and fatal action. You had every opportunity so to do and I am satisfied that, notwithstanding any disorder which I have found, you had no suicidal intent on the night of the offences.

Indeed, you yourself said in evidence that you would not go through with suicide because you love your family too much. I am satisfied so that I am sure that you were not seeking that night to place yourself in a position where armed police officers would kill you, and it is not a feature of this case in whole or in part.

Mr Lewis submits that, whilst there were other motivations of yours that night, suicide by cop was a feature of those motivations. I reject that submission on all the evidence I have heard.

I say at the outset that whilst I have been assisted by the professionals and recognise there is little or no agreement between them, it is for the court to make determinations and findings after careful consideration and assessment of the evidence that has been placed before it. I add that neither psychiatrist is inviting the court to consider any disposal pursuant to the Mental Health Act.

In considering the appropriate, just and proportionate sentence in your case, I have followed the guidance issued by the Sentencing Council in relation to all offences and the guideline in relation to sentencing offenders with mental disorders, developmental disorders or neurological impairments.

The court does not accept that your culpability was significantly to substantially reduced, as Dr Qurashi states, and that there is a coherent and plausible explanation between your symptoms of any mental disorder and the offences. In my judgement, you do retain high level of responsibility for that which you did notwithstanding some of your behaviour could be described as bizarre.

Your culpability is only marginally lessened, if at all. You had an interest in firearms.

You had acquired one with a vast amount of ammunition, kept it, drank to excess and then went and caused mayhem at three separate separate locations. I am satisfied you knew precisely what you were doing, demanding money from the shop owner whilst holding and discharging a firearm.

You appeared to enjoy showing that firearm to customers at the public house. You felt powerful and in control that night.

I am satisfied that these offences were borne out of anger, alcohol, and resentment. I turn to your mitigation.

You are 49 years of age and pleaded guilty at the first available opportunity. Irrespective of the nature of sentence, any custodial sentence or term will be reduced - the amount of which I must determine.

A Newton hearing has been held, but I remind myself - in respect of the principal issue that I have ruled upon - it was not you but Dr Qurashi who raised the issue which required determination by the court. In those particular circumstances, you will receive full credit to reflect those pleas and the stage of the proceedings you entered the pleas and the duration of your custodial sentence or term will be reduced by one third.

However, the hearing has given me an opportunity to assess you as a person and that which you did. You do have previous convictions, but none that aggravate the seriousness of these offences and, save for one offence of common assault in 2003, you have no previous convictions for violence.

I do take into account my findings as to your medical condition by way of personal mitigation and the fact that, in the cold light of day, you now regret your actions. I now turn to the relevant guidelines the court must apply as far as the specific offences are concerned

In respect of count one, you pointed the firearm at Mr Singh and discharged it at or towards him. The seriousness of the offence is aggravated by the fact it was an automatic weapon with a substantial quantity of ammunition, committed whilst in drink and at a time when you were seeking to rob the newsagent.

Your culpability was high and it is a category two harm offence. There was a high risk of serious physical or psychological harm. The starting point after trial is 14 years with a range of 11 to 17 years.

The offence of attempted robbery, the subject of count eight, falls within category 1A and has a starting point of eight years custody with a range up to 12 years custody - although the court must ensure there is no element of double counting. You remained in possession of that firearm when you went into the Showcase Cinema with intent to cause fear of violence.

Again, the weapon was discharged and I am satisfied you caused severe psychological harm to Mr Smith, a security officer. Your offence falls within category 1A, which has a starting point of eight years custody and a range of seven to nine years custody.

In respect of count four, again you discharged the firearm - on this occasion into the air. That offence falls within category 3A, which has a starting point of four years custody and a range of three to six years custody.

I turn to the offences, the subject of counts five, six and seven. Your culpability was again high.

It was a type two weapon, and there was on each occasion a considerable risk of serious disorder - if not more. The offences fall within category 1A, which has a starting point of three-and-a-half years custody.

In the final analysis, the court must apply the totality guideline to ensure your sentence is just and proportionate and at the same time reflecting the commission by you of all these grave offences - which can only be described as a campaign of terror committed with a lethal weapon which was discharged on three separate occasions. I will treat count one as the lead offence, and all sentences will be ordered to run concurrently with each other.

However, in doing so, there must be a significant uplift to reflect not only the aggravating factors but all your offending behaviour. It thus requires the court, in the interests of justice, to go outside the category range for the specific offence - the subject of count one.

You have pleaded guilty to serious specified offences and I have considered all the information available to me as I am required so to do pursuant to section 308(2) of the Sentencing Act 2020. I have no hesitation in finding that you represent a significant risk to members of the public of serious harm, occasioned by the commission by you of further specified offences in the future by reason of a culminative assessment and nature of the offences committed on the night in question - notwithstanding your lack of previous convictions in the past.

You are a very unpredictable person and, on the night in question, you were behaving irrationally and placing lives at risk - albeit the court takes notice of where the gun was pointed on each and every occasion and where it was in fact discharged. I must therefore consider whether the provisions of section 285 of the 2020 Act are satisfied in assessing the seriousness of the offences.

I remind myself that a sentence of life imprisonment is a sentence of last resort, and the authority of Burinskas 2014 EWCA 334 requires the court to assess the seriousness of the offences, any previous convictions, whether there is a reliable estimate of the length of time you will remain a danger and the available alternative sentences. l do not consider that a determinate sentence provides sufficient protection to members of the public but, bearing in mind your age and the length of the custodial term you will be obliged or may have to serve, the court stands back from imposing a sentence of life imprisonment and the court will impose an extended sentence pursuant to section 279 of the 2020 Act.

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