Man shot at 12 times in 'suspected terrorist incident' at Suffolk RAF base
A man with a teddy bear strapped to his chest was fired at 12 times by US security staff after he drove through a checkpoint at RAF Mildenhall in a suspected terrorist incident, a court has heard.
Forty-eight-year-old Glenn Wardle had arrived at the main gate of the US Air Force base claiming he was from the US Secret Service and during the incident said he “wanted to speak to the president”, Ipswich Crown Court heard.
Wardle had brandished what appeared to be a passport before driving his father’s black Volvo XC-70 through the gates and swerving around a pop-up barricade.
After getting past the barricade by driving into a chain link fence Wardle was challenged by armed security guards.
He had initially stopped before accelerating towards a security officer who had been forced to jump out of the way to avoid being hit, said Catherine Bradshaw, prosecuting.
The officer had also pushed a senior officer who had been stopped because he was driving a Volvo similar to Wardle’s out of the way to stop him being hit by the car.
Another officer had reached into the car in an attempt to grab the keys and was dragged along the ground for 30 metres before being forced to let go.
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His colleagues had then fired 12 shots at the Volvo in an unsuccessful bid to stop it, at which point Wardle had driven towards a runway where a fuelling plane was taxiing.
The aircraft had been ordered to stop by air traffic control as Wardle appeared to drive directly towards it.
Wardle had then driven 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.
Wardle 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, said Miss Bradshaw.
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”.
He was taken to hospital with superficial injuries caused when he was put face down on the ground. He was later discharged and detained under the Mental Health Act.
Miss Bradshaw said Wardle was now living back in the community with support from mental health services.
Wardle, of Ethel Colman Way, Thetford, has denied affray at RAF Mildenhall on December 18, 2017.
Wardle listened to Monday’s hearing remotely as he is awaiting the result of a Covid test.
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.
William Washer, who was a master sergeant at RAF Mildenhall at the time of the incident, said the Volvo had managed to drive round the pop up barrier by pushing into a “not very good” chain link fence which had bulged to let him pass.
He said that when he saw the teddy bear strapped to Wardle’s chest by the seat belt he had feared it was an IED ( Improvised Explosive Device).
He said that at one stage Wardle had moved the bear’s head as if it was speaking.
He said the incident had happened at a time when the base was on a high level of alert during the Syrian conflict and Wardle’s actions had resulted in the base being locked down for 90 minutes.
No weapons were found on Wardle or in his car but officers did find paper bullseye targets.
The trial continues.