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Man jailed for carrying imitation firearm

A man who was carrying an imitation firearm around the centre of Bristol has this week been jailed.

Darius Cucu, 36, was wrestled to the ground by two unarmed police officers having approached a woman and pushed the weapon into her stomach.

They have been nominated for a national award for the bravery they showed.

Cucu approached the woman and threatened her in Nelson Street in the early hours of Sunday 15 September.

She shouted out to PC Dean Sobey and PC Rowan Birch who were on patrol, prompting Cucu to flee the scene on a bike.

Cucu was pursued to Rupert Street where he pulled, what officers believed was a black handgun, from his waist band.

They grabbed Cucu, forcing him to drop the weapon. The officers later noticed the firearm was a black plastic imitation gun, with no trigger, and Cucu was arrested.

Upon his arrest, police discovered Cucu’s links to a robbery in Bristol shortly after midnight on Friday 21 June.

He was one of a gang who stole a wallet containing £2,000 from a man, in his 60s, in Baldwin Street. The group also stole a mobile phone.

Cucu was yesterday (Thursday 5 March) found guilty of robbery at Bristol Crown Court. He pleaded guilty to possessing an imitation firearm to cause alarm last month.

Cucu was sentenced to 12 months in prison for the robbery and nine months for the firearm offence, which he will serve consecutively.

The Romanian national has previously served a nine-year jail sentence in his homeland for robbery. He will be deported after serving his sentence.

Mark Edgington, head of patrol, said: “It is extremely likely that the two officers’ actions prevented Cucu from robbing the woman at gun-point.

“While it turned out the gun was an imitation, neither officer knew that at the time they arrived on the scene.

“They both showed outstanding levels of bravery in apprehending Cucu in what appeared to be a very dangerous situation.

“Most people’s natural instincts faced with such a situation would be to run, but the officers’ courage has ensured a nasty offender is now off our streets.

“We are hugely proud of the professionalism PC Sobey and PC Birch showed and the efforts they undertook to keep the public safe.”

PC Sobey and PC Birch have been nominated for a Police National Bravery Award. The awards ceremony will be held in London in July.

Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens added: “I am delighted that these two exceptional officers have been nominated for the National Police Bravery Award.

“It’s important that we never forget that officers put their lives on the line to keep local people safe. PC Sobey and PC Birch showed extraordinary bravery in an incredibly dangerous situation.

“The Constabulary and I am very proud of their outstanding actions and professionalism.”

Insp Andy Roebuck, Avon and Somerset Police Federation Chair, said: “Dean and Rowan have acted with the utmost professionalism and bravery, by tackling a male who was believed to be in possession of a firearm.

“They reacted decisively upon being told of the threat posed by this man and undoubtedly prevented future harm to the public.

“Police officers run towards danger and this is another fine example of this commitment and bravery.”