A man who attempted to take a nurse hostage in a Salford hospital and claimed he was going to ‘blow his own brains out’ has been jailed for life today.
The nurse was working at Salford Royal Hospital in May when the ordeal occurred.
Christopher Turkington, 41, of My Street, Weaste, threatened the nurse in what is thought to be the prelude to a suicide attempt.
He later put the gun to his head, but it was knocked to the ground by firearms response officers.
The previous day Turkington had been taken to the hospital by his wife Victoria, 40, of Briar Hill Court, Salford, claiming to have injured his hand with a drill bit. It was later discovered that a bullet had been fired into his left hand.
The following day Turkington asked his wife to remove other items from his address, and she took possession of four more firearms, taking them to her Salford flat.
Turkington then went to her flat and took the loaded weapons with him to the hospital at around 9.20pm on May 25 in order to create a scene that he hoped would result in his death.
In an interview after the incident he claims to have returned to the hospital to blow his brains out.
He said he thought that when he got there armed police would be waiting for him and if he did not shoot himself they would do it for him. He was disappointed when they weren’t there and said he needed to make it seem that there was a genuine threat.
He said to the nurse: “Don’t worry, I’m not going to hurt you.”
However he then said: “If you don’t get me any drugs soon I’m going to shoot myself.”
Mr Justice Openshaw said: “Over the years the defendant had developed an interest in weapons. He developed considerable skill in loading these weapons with ammunition and turned them into deadly weapons. It does not follow, therefore, that the events of the 25th May took place in isolation as he was making this arsenal of prohibited weapons.
“On this occasion he became fixed on the idea of suicide to the point where he cared about nothing else.
“I am willing to accept that he did not intend to shoot other people, but to shoot himself or to create a credible risk for the police to shoot him. It is all very well to claim the incident did not last long. His conduct put many people at risk and the outcome could have easily been very different.”
Turkington was sentenced to life imprisonment today for four counts of possession of a firearm with intent to commit the false imprisonment of a nurse. The judge said he must serve a minimum of 10 years of his sentence.
He has no previous offences. He is said to have been depressed for some 23 years, with his condition degenerating to a severe depressive episode with psychotic tendencies on the day in question.
His wife, to whom he has been married for 18 years, received a prison sentence of two years for possession of a firearm. The couple have been separated for around seven years.
She is said to have been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, though she has made progress since the time of the offence.
The judge said: “Many years ago Victoria Turkington came under what I consider to be the malign influence of Christopher Turkington who went on to become her husband.
“He effectively alienated her from her family. He was domineering and controlling. Possibly as a result of that she developed a series of mental health issues of her own and became a very heavy drug abuser. Eventually she split with her husband, though she visited him daily.
“Suffering as she was from depression and or post-traumatic stress disorder she was more susceptible to threats than other people. However, when she got to his house she knew very well what she was doing and even in her condition she must have known that she was doing wrong.
“I am quite prepared to find that there are extraordinary and exceptional circumstances for my not sending her to prison for five years. What she did, as she herself well knows, was profoundly wrong.
“A prison sentence must be passed and I am unable to suspend it. A message must plainly go out that anyone who does possess or move weapons in this way must face unpleasant consequences.”
Detective Chief Inspector Ben Ewart said: “This was a terrifying ordeal for three members of staff caught up in this incident, not least the nurse who was kept near Turkington for the best part of ten minutes.
“At some point or another, each of these people thought their life was in danger and that Turkington could lose control.
“Not only were they worried about themselves, but also the other patients on the ward.
“Despite these trying circumstances, however, the victims remained calm and compliant to ensure Turkington’s anxiety levels did not increase and they all showed extreme bravery throughout their ordeal.
“As for Turkington himself, our detailed investigations uncovered an alarming pattern of behaviour and a concerning level of interest in warfare.”
His wife Victoria pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm. She was sentenced today to two years