A TERRIFIED man was startled when armed police burst into his Widnes flat, Warrington Crown Court heard yesterday.
He was dragged from his bed and forced onto his knees with his hands behind his back, by armed officers.
David Anderson had been accused of robbing Steven Carey at gunpoint in Ireland Street, Halton View.
But, the gun backfired when it emerged that Carey had lied to cover up his gambling debts.
Carey, aged 30, a chef, of Crow Wood Place, admitted perverting the course of justice.
Jailing him for eight months, Judge David Hale, said:”This is such an appalling thing to do.
“You chose to blame him (Mr Anderson) for armed robbery, deliberately accusing him of having a gun so that, whilst he was asleep in bed, he was awoken by armed officers and kept in custody for 14 hours.
“He’s very fortunate he had alibis and that your story about the ATM (cash machine) was false. If these two factors hadn’t been present, how long would you have carried on with this ferango of lies?
“People who use police for their private ends and make untrue allegations commit a very serious offence.”
David Jones, prosecuting, said: “This defendant has been caught in a web of lies.
“He gave too many accounts for any to be believed. None of them is truthful. They were all made up.”
He said Mr Anderson told police he had never met Carey.
The only tenuous link between them is that Mr Anderson’s friend, Steven Grugel, is the ex-boyfriend of Carey’s current girlfriend.
Carey, who worked as a DJ on Saturdays, claimed Grugel warned him last March that he had “ruined his life” by taking his girlfriend.
Carey alleged he was threatened at gunpoint by Mr Anderson as he walked home from work in the early hours of September 25.
Carey told police: ‘Anderson stuck a gun to my temple. I felt the cold metal against my head. I’ve been a cadet and full-time in the army and have held a gun. I knew it was a 9mm hand gun.’”
Carey claimed Mr Anderson stole £160 from him and marched him to a cash machine to withdraw a further £150.
The police took his allegations seriously and mounted an armed raid of Mr Anderson’s home at 9.30am on October 5.
Mr Jones, said: “Mr Anderson heard loud banging on the front door and shouts: ‘Cheshire Police Armed Response’.
“Officers were pointing guns at him.
“He said: ‘I was petrified and felt scared.
‘It crossed my mind - is this a joke?’ ‘I was worried I was going to get into trouble for something I hadn’t done.”
Police checks with the bank revealed Carey’s alleged cash withdrawals were false.
Mr Jones said: “Carey admitted he fabricated the story as far as the robbery was concerned. He had gambling debts.
“Mr Anderson has suffered anxiety and stress since this incident. He has trouble sleeping and wakes up panicking and sweating.”
John Farnan, defending, said Carey “made a catastrophic monumental error of judgement and has expressed his remorse.
“For an innocent man to be arrested at gunpoint by the police must have been a terrifying experience for the victim.
“He made the false allegation of the withdrawal to cover up because he had lost money to his girlfriend.
“They recently moved to Warrington but his girlfriend will lose the flat because she can’t afford the rent.”
The couple set up home in Ripley Street, he said, to make a fresh start.
DC Kelly-Ann Cain, who was involved in investigating the case, said: "Carey provided a statement to police claiming he was held at gunpoint whilst money was stolen from him and named the alleged offender.
“As a result of this serious allegation a firearms warrant was executed and a local man was arrested. It later transpired that Carey had not been telling the truth.
"Carey wasted police time and resources as he weaved a web of lies regarding what had happened to him. Perverting the course of justice is a serious offence. Police and the courts take the issue extremely seriously and we hope that Carey's punishment reinforces this message.
"Such a serious allegation has a massive impact on the local community and we endeavour to prosecute people who not only waste police time and resources but also cause unnecessary fear within the local community. Police resources are vital and they are not here to be abused.”