AN ARMY veteran crippled by post-traumatic stress disorder after serving overseas tried to end his life during an armed stand-off with police.

Fortunately, armed officers showed ‘great restraint’ and managed to talk Mark Tarling down during his failed attempt to commit ‘suicide-by-cop'.

The 42-year-old of Elderfield Road, Bicester, appeared via videolink at Oxford Crown Court today for sentencing after admitting one count of possession of an air rifle with intent to cause fear of violence.

Tarling rang police on February 10 this year, telling a call handler ‘had a rifle and he wanted to die’.

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The message given to officers was that when they arrived he would ‘aim at them and they would in turn shoot him’.

When armed police officers arrived, the court heard, he was asked to put the rifle down.

Undeterred, he aimed the gun at a police officer, and as the stand-off continued the police officer repeatedly asked that Tarling drop the rifle.

Ultimately he did drop what turned out to be an air rifle, which was not capable of any lethality, and he was arrested.

Tarling was ‘compliant’ with police after that and apologised for his actions before later admitting the offence before magistrates.

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Prosecutor Jane Davies said at today’s hearing that it would have been difficult for the officers to tell whether the weapon was real or not during the stand-off.

She said: “The rifle was large and a long single barrelled rifle and it was difficult for them to distinguish that it was an air rifle.

“They were put in a very difficult position, it was a horrible position for them to be in.”

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She added that no other members of the public were around at the time.

In mitigation, defence barrister Lyall Thompson said that his client had complied with the armed officers quickly and said the incident was ‘not lengthy.’

The court also heard that Tarling had suffered post-traumatic stress disorder following his service in the armed forces and serving abroad.

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Sentencing, Judge Nigel Daly said: “You went into the street with an air rifle.

“It would not have been clear to people, including the police officers who attended, that it was an air rifle.

“Your purpose in doing this was to get yourself shot by armed police. Clearly you have got mental health difficulties.

“The police officers showed great restraint: had they not done you would have been dead, because they would have shot you dead. They didn’t.”

Tarling was made subject to a community order for 24 months to include mental health treatment requirement and rehabilitation activity requirement for 25 days. He must also pay a victim surcharge.