A MAN sparked an armed police response after he was spotted carrying an air rifle in Colchester town centre.

A passer-by was walking in Military Road with her young children when she spotted Danny Rodgers pull up in a silver van next to the shop.

When Rodgers got out of the van, she saw him carrying what she described to police as a big, black gun and he was wearing an anorak with the hood pulled tight covering his face.

The concerned mother – who does not know Rodgers - called the police and an armed response unit were sent to the tattoo parlour after he had gone inside.

Once they arrived, they were able to identify the weapon was an unloaded air rifle and Rodgers, 27, co-operated fully with them. Pellets were found in the van.

He admitted possessing an air rifle in public when he appeared at Colchester Magistrates’ Court yesterday.

Graham Brown, mitigating, said Rodgers never had any intention to frighten anyone.

He said: “He wants me to apologise to the lady who was concerned enough to call the police.

“The last thing he wanted was for anyone to have any concern at all.

“He was dressed simply for the weather on the day and he was going into the shop to show the gun to the owner who had previously expressed an interest in it.

“Not only was he there with the shop owner when the police arrived, there were customers there as well.

“None of them had expressed any concern. He realises he should not have had it on display in the way he did, though it was just the short walk from the van, over the pavement and into the shop.”

Magistrates told Rodgers, of Buxton Road, Colchester, he had been thoughtless and said they could understand why an unknowing member of the public would be scared at what she had seen when the incident occurred just after 2pm on October 19 last year.

He was fined £80 and must pay £85 costs and a £30 victim surcharge.

The air rifle, which is usually used by Rodgers for shooting on private land, will not be destroyed.