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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Tasers only work HALF the time court told after police fail to stun crazed knifeman

March 4, 2008

High voltage Taser stun guns used by British police only work about HALF the time, a court was told today. The alleged unreliability of the 50,000 volt devices emerged during a case against a crazed man jailed for threatening police with a Rambo-style knife.

Three constables had to retreat from Darryl Van Der Ven's home after they fired a taser at him but it failed to work, it was claimed.

"Apparently Tasers only work about fifty percent of the time they are used and this one didn't work," explained prosector Julian Kesner to Gloucester crown court. "In this case the wires were still coiled up - in the words of the officer - and he and his colleagues back off immediately through the door of the defendant's flat."

Had the Taser operated it would have immobilised blood soaked Van Der Ven - who had earlier smashed a wine bottle over his own head and then cut his throat with it. Instead, he was able to lock himself in his flat after the officers had retreated and there followed a five hour seige with armed police surrounding the property.

After hearing the claim, judge Martin Picton told Mr Kesner: "I am sure the manufacturers of taser guns will thank you for advertising that aspect of their operation!" The barrister replied: "That is the reality of what the officers have to deal with."

Van Der Ven, of Cirencester, Gloucestershire, who has a history of violence following a motorcycle crash whch left him brain-damaged, was jailed for five years after he admitted affray and two offences of making death threats to police.

Mr Kesner said the incident began when Van Der Ven became upset at his ex girlfriend's home in Cirencester, smashing a bottle over his head, cutting his throat with it, and then leaving a trail of blood as he returned to his home. Officers followed the bloody trail to his flat and broke the door down to get in because they feared his life was in danger from his self inflicted injuries. However, in the darkened hallway Van Der Ven appeared and advanced towards the officers brandishing a "Rambo style knife" with a inch double sided blade, Mr Kesner said.

Worried officers were so fearful of the tall, powerfully-built Van Der Ven that they fired the taser stun gun at him - but it failed to work. They then retreated from his home and were so worried he would come after them that they barricaded his front door with wheelie bins to stop him getting out. Armed officers arrived on the scene and there was then a five hour stand off before Van Der Ven finally surrendered, said Mr Kesner.

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