A DRIVER alerted the police after the passenger in a car he had overtaken on the M42 aimed a revolver at him through the window of the car.

Not knowing the gun was a blank-firing starting pistol, Neil Baldwin bravely followed the car until armed police arrived on the scene to arrest gunman Sean Hayden.

And at Warwick Crown Court on Friday (April 26), Hayden, of Pound Green, near Bewdley, pleaded guilty to possessing an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence.

The 24-year-old, who also admitted possessing a bladed article - a credit card knife, was jailed for 12 months.

Prosecutor Alex Warren said that at 5.45pm on May 19 last year, Mr Baldwin was driving his Jeep, with his partner’s 12-year-old son in the back, towards the M42 at junction two, near Redditch.

“As Mr Baldwin joined the motorway, he was aware of a Renault Clio in front of him, and he moved out into lane two and overtook the Clio," said Mr Warren.

“As he was doing that, he looked across towards it and saw that the driver’s window was open and what looked like a handgun was being pointed out of the window at him.

“It was being held by the front seat passenger who had the gun in his left hand and was reaching across the driver to point it at him.”

The Clio driver later told the police that, at Hayden’s request, they had been to a gun shop in Kidderminster where Hayden had bought ammunition for a blank-firing revolver.

The driver said he had become aware of a Jeep behind them, and had remarked that it was ‘up my a***’.

Kidderminster Shuttle:

Sean Hayden

Hayden was messing around with the revolver in the car, and reached across and pointed it at the Jeep as it passed them, the Clio driver said.

Mr Baldwin called the police and allowed the Clio to overtake before following it until it was stopped.

Armed officers approached the car, and Hayden immediately told them about the starter pistol, which was recovered from the glove box and found to be loaded with blanks.

He was arrested and taken to a police station where he was searched and found to have a credit card knife in his wallet.

When he was questioned, Hayden said the starter pistol used to belong to his father, and that he used it to scare away sheep that came into his garden because he lived in a rural area.

He said he had fired it in the car to scare a young woman in the back, but denied pointing it at Mr Baldwin’s car.

Julia Powell, defending, said it had been ‘a moment of madness’ by Hayden, who had not been in trouble before or since the incident, and he would lose his job if he was jailed.

But jailing Hayden, Judge Anthony Potter told him: “You went out with an imitation revolver. It’s a starting pistol, it’s not made of plastic, and it looks very real."

He added: "It goes without saying that leaning across a driver in any circumstances on a motorway would be an act of folly and a dangerous act, but to take a gun and to point it at a car where there was a man and a child is an act of extraordinary stupidity.

“I have considered very carefully whether I can suspend the sentence, and I regret to say, I cannot.

"People who brandish imitation firearms from moving vehicles at another vehicle on a motorway must expect to go to prison.”