A DRUNK man pulled out a BB gun in a pub and claimed he was an ‘assassin’ before threatening two boys with the imitation firearm.

Grant Pridham, from Newton-le-Willows, left the pair fearing they were going to die after accosting the strangers in the street in the early hours and holding the weapon to their heads.

Liverpool Crown Court heard on Monday, January 10, that the defendant had been drinking before attending the Chapel House Inn in Burtonwood on the evening of Saturday, September 4.

The 30-year-old, who later described himself as ‘six or seven out of 10’ in terms of drunkenness, saw a woman he knew in the pub – but she was left ‘unnerved by his behaviour’.

He then produced the airgun and showed it to her, leaving her ‘panicking’.

Pridham told her that he ‘had a job to do in Parr and would be paid £1,200 to do it’ before being told to leave the premises.

Shortly after midnight, he approached two 17-year-olds who were walking their dog on Burtonwood Road near to the junction with Boston Boulevard in Chapelford and asked the teens if they had a cigarette.

When they replied that they did not smoke, he ‘pulled out the gun and repeated his demand’ – pointing the weapon at the head of one of the youngsters, who pleaded with his assailant not to shoot him.

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Pridham lowered the weapon and told the teenagers that they had been ‘lucky’ before walking away as the pair, who said they had ‘never been so scared’, ran off in terror.

Police later arrested the attacker at his home on Borron Road in Newton-le-Willows and discovered the BB gun in a drawer in his bedroom.

He claimed that he had found the item, but he had in fact purchased the imitation firearm the previous month ‘for innocent purposes’.

Under interview, Pridham told officers that he had claimed in the pub that he was an ‘assassin’ but could not recall the altercation with the boys.

In a statement read out to the court, one of the victims described how he ‘genuinely thought that he was close to death’.

Defence barrister Simon Christie stated in mitigation that his client, who has six previous convictions for 14 offences, was ‘genuinely motivated to address his offending behaviour’.

He added: “Those who know him see a different side, a loving and thoughtful son.

“But he has, of his own volition, described a more disturbing side.

“It’s a very sad state of affairs – he has a respectable background and it’s been a source of real alarm to his parents.

“They were quite baffled as to how their son behaved in this fashion.

Pridham, previously of Birdwell Drive in Hood Manor, was jailed for seven years and nine months back in 2017 after admitting robbery.

This offence – which was committed whilst he was working as a drug debt enforcer – saw him break into the house on Mapplewell Crescent in Hood Manor in February that year and threaten the elderly occupants at knifepoint.

The banned driver then stole the keys to a Ford Focus, which he used as a getaway car.

Pridham was out of jail on licence at the time of his latest crimes, but was recalled to prison following his arrest.

He pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence during an earlier hearing and was locked up for another three years and nine months.

Sentencing, judge Gary Woodhall said: “On the evening of September 4 last year, you went out drinking.

“For whatever reason, and I cannot discern what the reason was, you had taken a BB gun.

“You drank to excess and were drunk, and others were unnerved by your behaviour.

“There seems to have been some implied threat that you were going to use the gun.

“Then, you were walking along Burtonwood Road when you approached two 17-year-old boys.

“You pulled out that BB gun and demanded a cigarette from them.

“One cannot underestimate just how frightening that must have been, but you went further – you pointed it at his head and closed one eye as if aiming the gun.

“He thought you were going to shoot him.

“It’s clear that those who know you think highly of you – you are well-mannered and described as a loving man.

“You are somebody who sits before the court having had a stable upbringing – you are well-educated and articulate yet you have committed two serious offences involving weapons.

“The conduct you engaged in was intended to maximise fear and distress.”

Pridham gave a thumbs up to his family in the public gallery as he was led down to the cells.

Forfeiture and destruction of the BB gun was also ordered.