June 2013

Accrington sex offender found with loaded gun aimed at his heart


A PERVERT being hunted by police aimed a loaded pistol at his heart and was found with the gun when officers entered his darkened garage, a court heard.

‘Suicidal’ Nicholas Riley, 53, should have been at Preston Crown Court to stand trial over sex allegations involving three schoolgirls but did not turn up so a warrant for his arrest was issued.

Two officers fled from the garage after Riley warned them not to go any nearer and they heard a loud metallic click.

He later told police he had pulled the trigger twice and the gun should have worked, but didn’t.

Riley, who has no previous convictions, was jailed for five years at Burnley Crown Court after being convicted of three counts of sexual assault and possessing a prohibited firearm and ammunition without firearms certificates.

The defendant, of Burnley Road, Accrington, was also ordered to sign the sex offenders’ register indefinitely and was given a 15-year sexual offences prevention order, banning him from having any unsupervised contact with females under 18.

Michael Blakey, prosecuting, said Riley denied the sexual assaults when he was arrested in August 2011.

When he failed to appear at Preston Crown Court last October, police searched a property and found a leather bag containing ammunition and air pistols.

Riley was classed as a high-risk missing person and deemed a suicide risk.

Police went to Burnley Road and saw a man sitting on the garage floor with a dark object across his lap.

An officer asked: ‘Are you all right?’ and Riley replied: ‘Don’t come any nearer.’ When they heard the ‘click’ both officers ran and ducked down behind a wall.

Mr Blakey said more officers attended and Riley was arrested. A bullet was found in the gun chamber and was made safe.

The defendant told officers he had had the gun for 30 years.

He said he had been to his mother’s grave and had thoughts about killing himself.

Riley said he had no intention of harming the officers. He claimed he had cocked the weapon, aimed it at his heart and pulled the trigger twice.

Martin Hackett, for Riley, said he did not accept the sexual offences and said: “We are not talking about a campaign of sexual behaviour.”