Hartlepool imitation gunman jailed after racially abusing shop assistant

Tyler Cannon produced an imitation Smith and Wesson revolver. A real revolver is pictured above.
Tyler Cannon produced an imitation Smith and Wesson revolver. A real revolver is pictured above.

A banned customer who racially abused a shop worker has been jailed for nine months.

Tyler Cannon swore at the female assistant after she refused to serve him at her corner shop in Hartlepool.

Cannon left the store before producing a realistic imitation Smith and Wesson revolver which he used to light a cigarette, Teesside Crown Court heard.

"He had previously been banned from the shop for causing trouble," said Shaun Dodds, prosecuting.

"The assistant refused to serve him and asked him to leave, at which point Cannon swore at her, referencing her colour.

"As he left the shop he spat on the ground.

"Police were called, and on arrival they found Cannon holding the cigarette lighter gun in full view of the public."

In a victim impact statement, the victim said: "I am distressed to think I could be spoken to in this way.

"We have been here four years, all we are trying to do is make a living.

"You just don't need the type of abuse I received that day."

Cannon, 18, of Carlton Street, Hartlepool, admitted racially aggravated harassment, and possession of an imitation firearm, both on September 18, last year.

He has previous convictions for offences of dishonesty.

Andrew Teate, defending, said in mitigation: "These latest offences were committed a day after Tyler Cannon turned 18, which demonstrates his immaturity.

"He didn't buy the lighter, it was in his parents' house on the mantelpiece having been bought during a trip abroad.

"It was not produced in the shop, nor produced directly to threaten any person.

"He produced it to light a cigarette.

"When he was holding it, Mr Cannon was singing 'nine millimetre, nine millimetre'.

"I'm no expert, but I'm told that is a lyric to a pop song.

"It's evident the police didn't take his actions as a serious firearms threat because they continued to advance to arrest him."

Judge Sean Morris jailed Cannon for nine months.

The judge told him: "Your behaviour in the shop was completely unacceptable.

"Once outside, you produced this realistic-looking imitation weapon.

"It would have been terrifying to anyone who saw it, and had it been produced during a robbery those present would have thought it real.

"I am satisfied this incident was purely out of stupidity and immaturity.

"But the message must go out that those who produce imitation forearms in public will be sent to prison."

The lighter was confiscated and will be destroyed.