Jury to begin deliberations in trial of man who drove onto US air base

Police near the scene of an incident at RAF Mildenhall. Picture: MICHAEL STEWARD

Police at RAF Mildenhall at the time of the incident in 2017 - Credit: Archant

Jurors will begin their deliberations tomorrow in the trial of a man who was fired upon 12 times as he drove through a security checkpoint at RAF Mildenhall. 

Glenn Wardle, 48, arrived at the main gate of the US Air Force base on December 18, 2017, with a teddy bear strapped to his chest, Ipswich Crown Court previously heard.

He claimed he was from the US Secret Service and said he “wanted to speak to the president” during the incident. 

Wardle drove his father's black Volvo XC-70 through gates before swerving around a pop-up barricade, the court heard. 

Armed security staff shot at the vehicle a dozen times, and one guard was dragged along the ground for 30 metres as he tried to grab the car keys. 

Wardle then drove towards an Osprey multi-purpose aircraft and was about to drive up the lowered ramp on to the plane when his car was rammed by security vehicles.

He was removed from the Volvo at gunpoint and had become agitated when the teddy bear on his lap was wrenched away from him by security officers who feared it was a bomb, Catherine Bradshaw, prosecuting, said. 

After his arrest Wardle, who was described as “babbling”, told officers he needed to get on the plane because he needed “to see the president”.

Wardle, who was prescribed anti-psychotic medication at the time, had a vision that morning of talking to Mr Obama after seeing a plane in the sky and believing he was on it, jurors heard. 

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Wardle, of Ethel Colman Way, Thetford, who chose not to give evidence during the trial, has denied affray. 

The court heard that he had admitted driving on to the base but claimed he didn’t have the mental awareness to commit the offence due to a psychotic episode after mistakenly smoking the synthetic drug ‘Spice’ instead of cannabis.

Summing up on Wednesday, Judge Martyn Levett told the jury: "The defence contend that at the time of the incident the defendant suffered a psychotic episode brought on by his admitted mental illness diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenia.

"Dr Thomas said in evidence that this psychotic episode on December 18, 2017, was due to do a deteriorating mental state which eventually precipitated in the psychosis."

He added: "Miss Bradshaw for the prosecution has submitted that the incident was caused in whole or in part by Mr Wardle voluntarily smoking Spice whether combined with cannabis or not.

"The question you, the jury, need to resolve is whether the prosecution has made you sure that Mr Wardle did voluntarily smoke Spice and cannabis and that any impairment was self-induced."

The jury will begin its deliberations at 10am on Thursday.