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A ten-year-old boy who suffered with nightmares after he was threatened with an imitation firearm has seen justice served thanks to a persistent investigation.
The boy was walking home with two friends in August 2021 when he was approached by 44-year-old Christopher Barden in Manchester Drive, Leigh-on-Sea.
Barden wrongly believed the victim had been involved in an incident involving his daughter.
Grabbing the child, he made threats and showed him an imitation firearm he had concealed in his pocket.
After the boy reported the incident to his mother, Essex Police were contacted.
Acting quickly, officers arrested Barden a short time later on suspicion of possessing an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence and common assault.
He answered “no comment” to all questions asked in interview.
Barden, of Blenheim Chase, Leigh-on-sea, was charged with possession of an imitation firearm, common assault and affray following a thorough investigation.
He denied the charges and faced a trial at Basildon Crown Court in May, with a jury convicting him on all three counts in May 2023.
Appearing at the same court for sentence on Friday, 8 September, Barden was sentenced to two years and six months in prison.
In a statement read to the court, the victim said he had suffered panic attacks since the incident.
He said: “I have nightmares about what happened, and I can’t sleep.
“This makes me feel worried about when I have to go to bed because I know that I am going to have nightmares
“Sometimes when I have the nightmares, they are so bad that they make me wake up.
“When I wake up because of these nightmares I feel hot, I can’t go back to sleep, I have to go and sleep with my mum and dad in their bedroom, or we have to go downstairs.
“Even though this happened to me two years ago, the nightmares are still happening.”
DC Neil Utley, of Southend CID, said: “There is absolutely no excuse for behaving in this manner towards a defenceless child.
“Barden was carrying a realistic imitation firearm capable of firing blanks.
“The sight of this item would be enough to strike fear into any member of the public, let alone a ten-year-old boy.”
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