14-hour siege at Bedford flats started over 'cold takeaway'

“This was an extremely disturbing and frightening siege”
L: Burton with the rifle in a corridor outside his flat. Top R: Turner throws an item from the balcony of the flat. Bottom R: Police at the scene, and the scale of the damage caused.L: Burton with the rifle in a corridor outside his flat. Top R: Turner throws an item from the balcony of the flat. Bottom R: Police at the scene, and the scale of the damage caused.
L: Burton with the rifle in a corridor outside his flat. Top R: Turner throws an item from the balcony of the flat. Bottom R: Police at the scene, and the scale of the damage caused.

A 14-hour siege at a block of flats in Bedford began when two neighbours complained about their takeaway being late and cold.

Paul Burton, 45, and Nathan Turner, 37, who had been drinking vodka and taking drugs, kept a delivery man prisoner in a lift for two hours, Luton Crown Court heard.

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Prosecutor Adrian Fleming told Luton crown court today (Friday) that at around 3am in the morning of November 27 last year the two men ordered a kebab – but the delivery driver could not gain access. When he eventually arrived on the eighth floor in a lift the two defendants placed a coffee table across the door so it could not close and the delivery man could not leave.

L to R: Paul Burton and Nathan TurnerL to R: Paul Burton and Nathan Turner
L to R: Paul Burton and Nathan Turner

“The defendants ate the food in the hallway and made him (the driver) put his hand in the food telling him it was cold,” he said.

The owner of the food business arrived at the flat after receiving abusive calls from Turner, the court was told, with the driver leaving with the owner in “a distressed state”. Something was thrown at the car, causing a dent in the roof.

Neighbours Burton and Turner were moving between their flats and playing loud music when shortly before 6am, two neighbours came out and told them to keep the noise down.

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Burton and Turner however came out into the communal corridor with Burton holding what the neighbour believed to be a rifle and pointed it at her door.

She called the police and at around 6.15am armed officers arrived, with Burton and Turner retreating into Burton’s flat and threatening to shoot the first officer who tried to come in.

Meanwhile, Burton fired at the windscreen of a police vehicle, partially piercing the glass and causing the officer behind the wheel to reverse at speed. “He thought he was going to die,” said the prosecutor.

The siege continued throughout the day with Turner throwing paint and plants from the balcony. Three police and two civilian cars were damaged. The damage to the police cars was said to be £4,700.

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Turner also posted a 90 second video on his Facebook page in which he showed a “contemptuous attitude” to the police.

At 12.34pm Turner gave himself up to police, with Burton finally leaving the flat at 5.49pm – 14 hours after the siege began.

Burton, of Bury Court, Church Lane, Bedford, pleaded guilty to attempting to cause grievous bodily harm and two charges of possessing a firearm without a certificate.

Turner, of a neighbouring flat in Bury Court, Church Lane, Bedford, admitted affray and four charges of criminal damage.

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For Burton, Lawrence Selby said he had a history of mental health problems and drug and alcohol abuse. “He accepts his behaviour was disgraceful and totally unacceptable,“ he said. Mr Selby said he was remorseful and wants help. While in prison he has been drug and alcohol-free and receiving assistance with mental health issues.

William Durrands, for Turner, said he was bipolar and at the time had been suffering a bereavement and separation from his family. While on remand in prison he had been attacked, suffering a fractured skull, broken eye socket and fractured shoulder.

Sentencing them, Judge David Farrell KC said: “It was an appalling and terrifying incident. This was an extremely disturbing and frightening siege in which a firearm was present. Significant police resources were used and there was considerable distress and disturbance to residents at the block of flats.”

He jailed Burton for seven years. Turner was sentenced to 20 months.

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A number of offences for both men were not proceeded with at court.

Detective Chief Superintendent William Hodgkinson, from Bedfordshire Police, said: “This kind of mindless and dangerous behaviour is completely unacceptable. The behaviour of these men left innocent people fearing for their lives, caused disruption to dozens of innocent people and also took considerable police resources to resolve.

“I am glad that we were able to resolve this issue so professionally and whilst they have both been in custody ever since, I am pleased their appalling behaviour has been met with such strong prison sentences.”