An actor triggered an armed police operation at Rugby railway station after another passenger reported seeing him with a gun on a train.
But after Darren Oderinde had been arrested by armed officers at gunpoint in front of alarmed fellow passengers the ‘weapon’ turned out to be a rubber replica.
And a jury at Warwick Crown Court found Oderinde, who has appeared on stage and in TV adverts, not guilty of possessing an imitation firearm in a public place.
Oderinde, aged 38, of Wimbourne Street, London N1, had denied the charge – and had also refused to accept a police caution over the ‘gun,’ which he had for use in self-defence classes.
Recorder Hefin Rees QC, who pointed out it was made of rubber and had no trigger or hole in the barrel, asked before the trial began whether Oderinde had reconsidered accepting a caution.
His solicitor James Skelsey said not, explaining: “He’s a struggling actor and an agent for other actors, and also does film work for which he needs to travel to America. A caution would affect his ability to travel there.”
Prosecutor Tim Sapwell told the jury that in May 2014 Oderinde was travelling by train from London to Birmingham for a theatre event.
“He was taken off it at Rugby because he had with him an imitation firearm, a black rubber gun, which a member of the public had seen and reported to the police.
“It has the appearance of a handgun, although it doesn’t have a trigger; and he had it, we say, without any reasonable excuse. He was not on his way to an event where he was going to use it.”
Mr Sapwell said Oderinde was travelling with another man and two women, sitting round a table in a carriage where their boisterous behaviour drew the attention of one of the other passengers.
The passenger saw one of the men produce what he thought was a replica hunting knife and demonstrating disarming movements.
And as he then walked past them to get off the train at Northampton that man saw the black rubber hunting knife and what appeared to him to be a handgun – so reported it to the police.
A police firearms team was alerted and went to Rugby railway station where the train was kept waiting with the carriage doors shut until they arrived.
“They attended with live weapons and made their way to the carriage and saw the gun on the table in front of one of the women. Sgt Dominic Martin thought it was a real gun.
“It was a tense situation and could have ended badly for the defendant and his friends, but was dealt with professionally and they were arrested at gunpoint,” said Mr Sapwell.
Oderinde said he had bought both the knife and the gun, which were of identical matt black rubber, as training aids for the form of martial arts he practiced, which involved disarming people who were using weapons.
The actor explained that he carried them with him so that if he had time he could practice with them.
He accepted it was ‘unwise’ to have taken them out on the train, but said he had been showing his travelling companions some disarming manoeuvres to try to encourage them to join the self-defence classes he attended in London.
Mr Sapwell put to the jury: “He had it on view on a crowded train, and we say his excuse for having in that public place is not a reasonable one.”
But Mr Skelsey said there were 50-70 other people in the carriage, with several sitting in and around where Oderinde was sitting, who were unconcerned by the items on the table.
And he suggested there had been ‘an over-reaction or a mistake’ by the passenger who contacted the police.
Following the jury’s unanimous verdict, Mr Skelsey asked for Oderinde’s travelling costs totalling £327 to be refunded, which was granted.
Recorder Hefin Rees QC also ruled that Oderinde was entitled to have the rubber gun and knife returned to him, following a request by Mr Skelsey who pointed out that the actor still took part in the self-defence classes.