Security guard told Showcase Cinema gunman 'drop the pea shooter' but it was an AK47

Police at the Showcase Cinema on East Lancashire Lane in Liverpool on Wednesday night
-Credit: (Image: Liverpool Echo)

A security guard told Showcase Cinema gunman Leslie Garrett "drop the pea shooter" before he opened fire with an AK47.

The 49-year-old, of Ternhall Road in Fazakerley, raided a newsagents in his flip flops and shot into a protective screen on the evening of January 3 this year. He then went for a drink in a pub before continuing onwards to the Croxteth cinema, where he had worked as a security guard before being sacked three months earlier.

Garrett previously pleaded guilty to eight offences - including possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life, two counts of possession of a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence, attempted robbery and possession of ammunition without a certificate. He will learn how long he is to spend behind bars after facing a trial of issue, a hearing in which a judge decides the factual basis on which a defendant is to be sentenced, at Liverpool Crown Court.

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David Birrell, prosecuting, today described how Amandeep Singh had been working at Sangha's off-licence on Lower House Lane on the Wednesday night in question. The store was empty at around 7.30pm, with the shop assistant stood behind the counter and a protective plastic screen when Garrett entered wearing a long green coat with the hood up and with a pair of flip flops on his feet.

Mr Singh "noticed that the defendant's left arm was very straight" before he "suddenly" shouted: "Come on. Money".

The employee initially "thought it was a joke and smiled", but Garrett "produced and raised" an AK47 which he fired in his direction. Mr Singh fled into the stock room as the gunman left and drove to the Western Approaches pub in his Ford Focus, where he "ordered a drink and chatted to other customers at the bar".

He was then seen leaving the premises on CCTV,with two other men following to him to his car. There, he "appeared to show them the firearm" causing them to "back off".

Garrett then got back into his vehicle and continued onwards to the Showcase Cinema, where he had previously been employed as security but "lost his job following complaints about his behaviour towards other members of staff". Entering shortly after 8.45pm, again with his hood up, he approached cashier Danielle Mea and guard Philip Smith at the ticket desk.

He then pointed the weapon at the former, but both workers "believed it was a joke". Mr Smith even told him: "Drop the peashooter and don’t point it at her."

But Garrett responded "come see" and gestured for him to follow him into the car park. Cameras then captured the moment that he repeatedly fired the gun outside the cinema.

Upon realising that the gun was live, Mr Smith shouted to Ms Mea: "Get down. Get out."

Customers were "contained for their safety whilst police secured the area", with 12 shell casings being recovered from the scene. Garrett meanwhile left to the rear of the pictures and "fired multiple shots into the air" before driving away "at speed, erratically and through a red traffic light".

He continued to a Go Local store, where he "bought two mini bottles of vodka on credit", before remaining in the area of his mum's house on Ternhall Road for roughly an hour. At around 10pm, he moved on to his partner Jennifer Forshaw's address on Malpas Road where he again began firing gunshots.

Four shell casings were subsequently discovered in the front garden and street outside Ms Forshaw's home. She later told officers that Garrett had fired the gun, which he kept on her property, into the air before leaving for his mother's address after the couple had earlier "drank alcohol and argued".

Shortly after 4.30am, a team of 16 firearms officers, two negotiators and a police dog handler attended Ternhall Road in "ballistically protected" Land Rovers. Garrett's 67-year-old mum Olive Brown opened the door and was escorted from the premises at gunpoint.

The defendant then presented at the entrance wearing a t-shirt and boxer shirts in an "agitated and aggressive" state. When officers pointed their guns towards him, he replied: "F*** off d***head."

Garrett was tasered and fell to the floor, at which he was handcuffed and arrested. He gave no comment to detectives under interview.

Merseyside Police subsequently recovered a Czech-manufactured "AK47-style rifle" dating back to 1964 from the Malpas Road address on January 5. The CZ-model VZ58 gun, which "bore military markings", was described as being "in fair condition given its age" and was successfully tested fired, although only one of the 323 cartridges recovered alongside it was compatible with the weapon.

The trial of issue is scheduled to continue tomorrow, Friday. Judge David Aubrey KC will then pass sentence.

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