Michael Steven Sandford, a 20-year-old British man who tried to snatch a police officer’s gun with the intent to shoot Donald Trump, has been sentenced to a year in prison for the offense.
The assassination attempt took place last June at a Trump rally in Las Vegas, but Sandford was immediately arrested and has been in custody since. While he was being apprehended, Sandford admitted he was trying to kill the billionaire Republican candidate.
At the time, Lynne Sandford told the CNN that hearing about her son’s arrest shocked her, describing him as “a very sweet, very sensitive, soppy, loving lad,” and insisting he had never been violent before.
Michael Sanford, who is autistic, also has a long history of mental illness, including spending time in a psychiatric facility for anorexia at 14 as well as suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, depression and anxiety.
Sandford, who hails from Dorking in Surrey, could have faced up to 20 years for the two charges brought against him — being an illegal alien in possession of a firearm and disrupting an official function — but plead guilty in September.
His lawyers argued Sandford was “experiencing a psychotic episode during the incident,” and Judge James Mahan agreed, telling the Sandford,
“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.”
Sandford responded in tears,
“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.”
Sanford’s family is fighting desperately to have him serve his sentence in the UK, launching a crowdfunding campaign to cover the legal costs.
“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.”
His mother was able to visit him once, saying:
“During my visit to Las Vegas, I learned that Michael had been on suicide watch several times following numerous mental breakdowns. 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.”
Trump, a man who mocked a disabled reporter at another rally and suggested Second Amendment supporters could take care of Hillary, was not at the sentencing.
Featured image via Drew Angerer/ Getty Images