THREE men have been jailed for conspiring to possess an imitation firearm after a woman was threatened following an argument in a pub.

Andrew Rathbone, 25, of Freckleton Road, West Park, St Helens; Michael Brown, 26, of no fixed address; and Liam Higham, 21, of Ashfield Crescent, Kirkby were all sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court yesterday, Tuesday, November- 21. 

They pleaded guilty to conspiring to possess an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence.

Rathbone was sentenced to three years, Higham was given 30 months and Brown was handed three years.

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On March 13, 2022, it was reported that two males threatened a woman with a firearm in Kirkby following an argument in a pub the previous day.

The victim, who was inside her car, was approached by the males who opened the door and pointed an imitation firearm at her before making threats.

Following an investigation, Rathbone, Brown and Higham were arrested and later admitted conspiring to possess an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence.

Detective Chief Inspector John Fitzgerald said: “It may have been an imitation firearm used in this incident, but it is still capable of causing fear and concern for our communities.

“The use of weapons – whether to cause injury or intimidation – will not be tolerated on our streets and we will take action to find the people responsible and bring them to justice.

“We continue to ask our communities to be our eyes and ears and give us information about who is using weapons or where they are being stored so we can take positive action.”

St Helens Star: They were jailed at Liverpool Crown CourtThey were jailed at Liverpool Crown Court (Image: Stock)

- The investigation formed part of the Clear, Hold, Build partnership work with Merseyside Police and partners who are determined to rid Merseyside of organised crime groups and to rebuild the communities that have been most-affected by gang-related activity.


The three-phase initiative, known locally as EVOLVE, uses a combination of targeted high-visibility police operations and covert policing tactics alongside activity from partners and input from residents to protect our communities and prevent organised crime groups from operating.


The strategy sees police ruthlessly pursue gang members using all available powers and tactics to clear an area; continue activity to hold the location, so another gang can’t take control in the vacuum; and then work with residents and partners to build the community into a more prosperous area where people would love to live, work and visit and one less susceptible to being exploited by organised crime groups.

EVOLVE projects are taking place in areas of Wirral, Liverpool, Knowsley and Sefton. This is a long-term project and work will be continuous.

Partners involved in EVOLVE include Merseyside Police, Merseyside’s Police and Crime Commissioner, local councils, Merseyside Fire and Rescue, housing associations, health services, schools, colleges, Probation Service, local businesses, community groups and residents.

Anyone with information about serious organised crime groups in your area can call 101, DM @MerPolCC or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 08000 555 111.