14, December 2016
An autistic boy from Britain has been given a 12-month jail term over an attempt to assassinate GOP nominee Donald Trump in one of his rallies at a Las Vegas casino in June in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election. The 20-year-old Briton, identified as Michael Steven Sandford, tried to grab a police officer’s gun before he was stopped as the future president was addressing his fans. He later told officers that he meant to kill the now president-elect and pleaded guilty in September.
Judge James Mahan told him: “You have a medical problem. You should not be ashamed or embarrassed about it. You need medication….You’re not a hardened criminal. You’re not evil or a sociopath like a lot of people we have. I don’t think you wanted to kill anybody. This was just some crazy stunt that your mind told you to do.” The young man also voiced regret, saying, “I know saying sorry is not enough. I really do feel awful about what I did. I wish there was some way to make things better. I have cost taxpayers so much money. I feel terrible… I’m really sorry to you and the court for taking up so much time.” Sandford’s family has been trying to make the legal arrangements necessary to bring him back to the UK, where he can receive proper psychiatric help, The Guardian reported. They have also launched a crowdfunding campaign in an effort to raise money of the legal costs. According to his mother, Lynne Sandford, “Michael’s actions were completely out of character. He is an extremely vulnerable young man and we believe that he needs to return to the UK in order to serve his sentence.”
“During my visit to Las Vegas, I learned that Michael had been on suicide watch several times following numerous mental breakdowns,” his mother said. “‘Suicide watch’ in the US involves being kept in isolation 24/7 for up to a week at a time. Other prisoners are allowed books, but these are taken away from Michael while he is in isolation. Michael isn’t even allowed toilet paper while he is in isolation.”
Sandford, who also suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder, severe depression, seizures, cardiac issues and Crohn’s disease, had been in the US for 18 months before the incident happened. He drove from California with a plan to kill Trump in Las Vegas, where he even went to a gun range to learn how to fire a gun. According to his British lawyer, Saimo Chahal, he was delusional at the time. Trump finally managed to gain electoral victory on November 8 and become the country’s future president.