Teenager's 'toy' gun sparks armed police raid on home

ARMED police stormed a family's home and left them terrified after their teenage son was spotted playing with a "toy" gun in his bedroom.

Solicitor John Trimbos, 42, said he was confronted with a scene reminiscent of "a Bruce Willis movie" when officers smashed down the door of his Victorian mansion flat in Belsize Park, north London.

Someone in the hotel opposite had seen his 15-year-old son, Olly, playing with what the family say was a plastic BB (ball bearing) toy gun in his room and called the police, fearing it was a real weapon.

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Mr Trimbos, his wife, Lucy, and their two sons, Olly and seven-year-old Felix, had just finished their family dinner when the firearms officers from Scotland Yard burst through their front door.

He and his eldest son were handcuffed and taken outside for an hour while police searched their flat.

Police say the gun was "not a toy" but a "replica", but Mr Trimbos today described the experience as "utterly mortifying" and said it had left his wife and sons traumatised.

He criticised the police for "heavy-handed tactics" and said he intended to complain to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Describing the lead-up to his ordeal, Mr Trimbos said his son and a friend had been playing with the toy gun in his bedroom at around 6pm on Monday when they were seen by a guest in a hotel across the road.

"This person called the police and said: 'There are two young men in the flat across the road and it looks as if they have a machine gun,'" he said. "The police, understandably, decided to investigate."

At around 8pm, just after their evening meal and while Mr Trimbos was reading a book and his son checking his e-mails, they suddenly heard a huge crash.

"The front door came crashing open - they had rammed it with a battering ram," he said. "The door frame came away. I went out into the corridor to see what it was - it was like something out of a Bruce Willis movie. There was plaster dust everywhere.

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"Through the swirling dust I could see armed police officers. They all had flak jackets, helmets and goggles and were pointing their guns straight at me."

Scotland Yard released a statement insisting that the gun was a replica Heckler and Koch MP5 and that it was "not a toy".

A spokeswoman said that police had apologised and that no complaint had been received.