Briton held over Donald Trump gun incident pleads guilty to lesser charges


A British man accused of attempting to shoot Donald Trump at a Las Vegas casino has pleaded guilty to lesser charges.

Michael Sandford, of Dorking in Surrey, was due to stand trial over the incident at a rally on June 18 in which he tried to grab a policeman's gun to attack the flamboyant Republican presidential candidate.

The 20-year-old appeared at the US District Court in Nevada on Tuesday to enter his plea to the charges of being an illegal alien in possession of a firearm and disrupting an official function. 

His mother Lynne Sandford flew with a UK-based lawyer to see him in custody last week and persuade him to sign the plea agreement, something she said he had been "pondering" over doing for some time. 

And she described the anguish of being unable to hug her son when she travelled out to support him.

Speaking to the Press Association from the UK shortly after her son's guilty pleas were entered, Mrs Sandford said: "He is incredibly sorry and remorseful for everything and has said to me 'you know under normal circumstances I would never do anything like that mum'.

"Everybody says this is not him - this is so opposite to what he is."

Mrs Sandford revealed that her son was recently diagnosed as having had a psychotic episode at the time of the incident in June.

"He is now receiving medication for that and he is feeling the benefit of it," she added.

"The upshot of it is that there is no certainty. Even though he has signed the plea agreement, which should be the best option, it won't necessarily happen that way.

"The judge at sentencing can either agree with what is in the plea bargain or he can totally overthrow that and impose a punishment of his own."

The mother-of-two said it would mean "everything" to get her son home, after she saw him last week for the first time since he left for America.

"It was the best thing to be able to go out there and see him, even though for the first two days I was separated by him from a wire mesh," she said.

"We were able to put our hands side-by-side through the mesh and I could at least feel the warmth of his hands through it. But to travel 5,500 miles and still not be able to give him a hug is incredibly difficult.

"Obviously it was a tearful reunion, it has been a long time since I've seen him."

His sister and grandmother also made the journey to visit him at the remand centre, with his mother saying the whole incident has been hard on the family.

"For my mum especially, she was not granted the face-to-face visitation through the mesh and she is in her late 70s and just wonders if she will see him in the flesh again," she said.

"He is the only male in the family left and he means a tremendous amount to us."

Mrs Sandford added: "Obviously it was extremely difficult to turn around and leave him and get on the plane - not knowing when we will see him again.

"When I left he just looked so sad, forlorn and dejected."

She revealed her son told her "coming to America was the worst thing he ever did", and said he is "desperate" to return home.

"He is not coping, he said to me: 'I don't know how to get through each day let alone longer than that.'

"He is in a cell that is basically just arm's width wide, he can stretch out both of his arms and touch both of the walls, and it is just as long as the bed which he has one side and a toilet the other.

"There is no window - he gets 10 minutes of exercise outside each day which is in an outside cage, but due to the desert heat that is all he can manage anyway.

"There is nothing to do there - it is very stark and barren. He is not allowed any keepsakes other than letters and pictures that we send, but even those get cleared out once a week."

Sandford could have faced up to 20 years in a US prison if he had been convicted at trial - but his plea means he could be deported and his sentence reduced.

His mother said that even though things are still uncertain they are at least "one step closer" to getting him home.

:: The family are trying to raise funds to cover the cost of the legal fees. To make a donation visit