Young Briton in plot to shoot Donald Trump

Accused believed he would die in assassination attempt

A young Briton accused of attempting to grab a police officer’s gun in a bid to kill Donald Trump has appeared in a US court in shackles.

Michael Steven Sandford, from Dorking in Surrey, was arrested at a rally in a Las Vegas casino on Saturday after going for the weapon as he asked for the presidential hopeful’s autograph.

The 20-year-old, who was in America without permission, later told police he wanted to kill the presumptive Republican nominee, according to the Secret Service.

Sandford, who is said to have autism, told investigators he expected to die in the attempt, which he had been planning for a year.

He arrived in the city on Friday, when he went to a local shooting range where he reportedly learned how to use a gun for the first time.

On Monday, Sandford was denied bail at a district court in Nevada, where he appeared charged with an act of violence on restricted grounds.

Federal Magistrate Judge George Foley declined to release Sandford, who appeared before him in leg irons, over concerns that he was a potential danger to the community and a flight risk.

A federal public defender told the court that Sandford was autistic yet competent, although he did not enter a plea. His mother, who has not been named, told the judge he had a history of mental health problems.

According to court research, Sandford did not have permission to be in the US after overstaying a visa and he was unemployed.

He had driven across the US to San Bernardino, California, and had been living out of his car before travelling on to Las Vegas on Thursday. On Friday, he visited the Battlefield Vegas shooting range where he practised using a 9mm Glock pistol, firing off 20 rounds.

The following day he went to the Treasure Island Casino where Mr Trump was addressing a rally of 1,500 supporters amid tight security.

Attendees had to pass through metal detectors manned by Secret Service, police and casino security officials.

One of those in the crowd, Gregg Donovan, said he had briefly spoken to Sandford while they queued and he seemed “strange”.

When he later asked to get an autograph from the billionaire, Sandford allegedly attempted to take a police officer’s holstered gun before being tackled and frogmarched from the venue.

A Secret Service report said Sandford told officers he had been planning the assassination for around 12 months and believed he would die in the process.

Sandford was carrying a UK driving licence at the time he was arrested.

A neighbour in Dorking, England, described him as “a very quiet lad”, while another, who did not give her name, said: “He used to say ‘hello’, which is good in this day and age.”

Asked if she was surprised by what is said to have happened, she said: “Kids do strange things and he (Trump) is a horrible man anyway.”


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