British man pleads not guilty in Donald Trump shooting plot case


A British man has pleaded not guilty to attempting to grab a police officer's gun in a bid to kill Donald Trump.

Michael Sandford, 20, allegedly tried to snatch the weapon during a rally at Treasure Island casino in Las Vegas on June 18.

He is said to have told police he had travelled to the Nevada city to kill Mr Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for the US presidential election, according to court documents.

Sandford, dressed in a yellow prison uniform and wearing leg irons, appeared at a federal court in Las Vegas.

He pleaded not guilty to a charge of disrupting government business and official functions and two charges of being an illegal alien in possession of a gun. 

Sandford, of Dorking, Surrey, walked into the courtroom to enter pleas with three other defendants from separate cases.

Wearing a yellow prison t-shirt with the word "detainee" on the back, he stood to confirm his name and age to US magistrate judge Cam Ferenbach.

After the charges were read to Sandford, the judge asked him: "Do you understand the nature of the charges against you?"

Sandford replied: "Yes I do."

The judge asked: "How do you plead?"

Sandford replied: "Not guilty".

According to a complaint lodged with the US district court in Nevada, Sandford told a policeman at the rally that he wanted Mr Trump's autograph before he attempted to seize the officer's gun.

Asked during a police interview why he had attempted to grab the weapon, Sandford replied "To shoot and kill Donald Trump", the complaint alleges.

He had driven to Las Vegas from California on June 16 and went to a shooting range the next day, where he said he learned how to use a gun for the first time, it is claimed.

Sandford - who had been living in the US for around 18 months - allegedly told investigators he expected to die in the attempt on June 18, which he had been planning for a year.

He also claimed to have booked tickets for another Trump rally in Phoenix, Arizona, in case he was unable to attempt to take the billionaire's life in Las Vegas, the complaint says.

Asked for his level of education by the judge, Sandford replied: "High school."

A "calendar call" in the case will be held at the court on August 11.

Sandford was remanded in custody and is due to stand trial on August 22.

Sandford's mother has voiced fears that her son, who faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted, may try to take his own life in a US jail and called for him to be returned to the UK.

Lynne Sandford told the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire programme: "I would like him to be deported so he can be back in the country and can get psychiatric help and that way he could see the family that still adore him.

"Jail is no place for him. He needs help, but not prison."

Mrs Sandford said her son had been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome when he was 13 and he had previously tried to kill himself. He had to be sectioned as a teenager after suffering from anorexia, she added.