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Tuesday, 21 October 2014

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Armed police swoop on Workington hotel boss after gun claims

Well-known Workington businessman James McTear was held at gunpoint by armed police on New Year’s Eve.

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SHOCKED: James McTear, 67, was stopped by armed police in Workington

Police with guns swooped after a false report that Mr McTear, 67, had threatened a traveller family with a firearm.

Mr McTear, whose wife Anne runs the town’s Cumberland Hotel on Station Road, was pulled over in his car near Northside roundabout.

He had been searching the area for his granddaughter’s pet dog.

Police confirmed that they were called at 11.05pm following reports of a disturbance.

Mr McTear said: “I saw flashing blue lights in my rear view mirror. I began to pull over towards the kerb to allow it to pass when it swerved in front.

“Three fully armed policemen got out, shouting at me while pointing their guns at my front and side windows.

“I didn’t have time to be scared, and my first reaction was one of anger.

“They told me to get out of the car and lie down on the ground. I said ‘I’m not getting out, it’s chucking it down’.”

Police blocked off the roundabout exits. They searched Mr McTear’s Jeep and found only his two walking sticks.

Mr McTear was looking for an elderly spaniel called Missy which had disappeared at Oldside.

The dog belonged to his granddaughter Amelia, eight, who lost her mother Jill McTear-Jones and her pet dog Bella to cancer last year.

Mr McTear began a thorough search and used a torch to look behind the St Helen’s Business Park, on Maryport Road.

He noticed an unlit caravan, van and car blocking the road but no sign of the dog.

Mr McTear said he was told by police that the caravan family had claimed he had a firearm and threatened to burn their caravan and kill their children.

He also found out later that police had visited his wife at the hotel.

She had been involved in the search but had returned to look after New Year guests.

He said: “Apparently she too had been accused of assaulting the caravan’s residents.”

The badly injured dog was found later near the railway line and was put down.

Police confirmed that they were called to the business park following reports of a disturbance.

They were told that men in two vehicles had been causing problems, and that one was carrying a handgun and had made violent threats.

A police spokesman added: “Cars matching the description were located nearby and both were searched and no weapons found.

“The drivers were spoken to, and officers found no cause for concern.

“The cars had been in the St Helen’s Business Park area, but no offences were found to have taken place.”

Sergeant Peter Garforth said: “When we received the report that a firearm may have been involved it was important to ensure that trained officers were available to deal with any possible scenario.

“Thankfully in this case no weapons were found to be involved.

“We have to take any reports of firearms seriously and our priority is to protect the public.

“We would never wish to cause anyone unnecessary stress. However, we can only act on information available at the time.”

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