A FORMER special forces soldier has been jailed following an armed siege at his Cheshire home that lasted more than two days.
Steven Morton, 56, threatened to shoot police officers with a crossbow if they forced entry on the afternoon of March 9.
A police firearms unit and expert negotiator then spent the next two nights waiting for him to surrender – and at one point even spotted him cleaning the house.
Morton also threatened to throw a petrol bomb from an upstairs window but eventually handed over his crossbow and gave himself up shortly before 5pm on Saturday, March 11.
He had originally threatened bailiffs who arrived to repossess the home at Wychwood Park, Crewe. A “messy divorce” had meant the mortgage was no longer being paid.
Chester Crown Court heard Morton had seen shocking brutality and violence while serving in the army in South Africa and Zimbabwe as a young man.
His experiences had left him with depression and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) while a psychiatrist also diagnosed him as having a mixed personality disorder.
Maria Masselis, defending, argued Morton needed help and treatment for his condition, stressing that he was “immensely sorry” and had pleaded guilty to affray at the first opportunity.
But Judge Nicholas Woodward said only a sentence of immediate custody was appropriate in the circumstances and jailed Morton for 18 months.
Prosecutor Nicholas Williams told the court the entire stand-off with police had lasted 51 hours.
Bailiffs arrived at Morton's home to repossess the property and decided to drill the lock before spotting him sitting inside holding a screwdriver.
Feeling threatened, they called the police by which point the defendant had armed himself with a crossbow.
Armed officers were despatched to the scene as well as an expert negotiator and police helicopter.
Morton, now of The Parade, Greatstone, New Romney, Kent, told officers he would “take your blood if you attempt to take mine” and said he would shoot anyone who entered the property.
“He pointed the crossbow out of the window,” Mr Williams said. “He was waving it from side to side and shouting 'you should be ashamed of yourselves!'
“Firearms officers had their weapons targeted on him fearing he was about to discharge the crossbow.”
Morton later hung sheets and blankets over the windows. At about 12.30pm on the Saturday he was seen at an upstairs window holding what he described as a Molotov cocktail – a petrol bomb.
However, later that afternoon negotiations began between the defendant and police and at 4.50pm he surrendered and was arrested.
In his police interview he described the relationship breakdown with his wife after 12 years, the anticipated repossession of his home and the impact of his military past.
He said the arrival of firearms officers at the scene “put him in a militarised state” and he was “prepared to die”.
Miss Masselis said he now expressed genuine remorse and a willingness to engage with the authorities to receive treatment for his disorder.
Morton had been trying to empty and clean the house in time to meet the repossession deadline but had not finished when bailiffs arrived. Matters then escalated.
“This was clearly an extremely difficult time for this defendant,” Miss Masselis said.
See full story in the Chester Leader