Brit Michael Sandford lunged for a policeman's gun at a rally for then presidential candidate Trump
The Brit Who Tried To Kill Trump (Sunday, BBC1) was a film with many questions to ask and little in the way of answers. In May 2012, a British man called Michael Sandford was reported missing in the USA by his parents.
Twenty-three days later he attended a rally in Las Vegas for the then presidential candidate Donald Trump, at which he lunged for a policeman’s gun.
Questioned in the aftermath, first by outraged security and law enforcement people at the scene and later by cool-headed investigators, Michael made no attempt to disguise his motives. His target had been Donald Trump, he said, who deserved to die because he was a racist.
Wobbly video footage of Michael in the aftermath of the event showed a thin, pale young man, clearly in possession of some very off-kilter views but nonetheless presenting them coherently and consistently.
With their son banged up in a maximum security jail and facing life imprisonment, Michael’s desperate parents pleaded for leniency.
Brit Michael Sandford lunged for a policeman's gun at a rally for the then presidential candidate
Interviews with them built up a picture of a sweet, gentle boy, diagnosed with Asperger’s at a young age, who’d experienced bullying and periods of mental illness but nonetheless had been raised in a loving home and grown into a young man with a strong social conscience.
In their view, only radicalisation by some outside force or a bout of temporary psychosis could explain his actions. You’d expect someone’s mum and dad to say such things, of course, but it was remarkable how many witnesses on the other side of the Atlantic had similar views.
“He didn’t look like a murderer,” said the diehard Trump fan who’d stood next to Michael in the queue to get into the rally.
Michael’s desperate parents pleaded for leniency
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“Seemed a good kid… couldn’t hurt a fly,” said the man who’d helped him practise shooting targets with a Glock pistol at a firing range the day before.
Even the baffled questioning of the assorted lawmen at the scene suggested they’d captured a kid doing something daft, rather than a threat to global security.
With “The Donald” in power and sentencing due to come from a staunch Republican judge, the odds seemed stacked against Michael and yet, incredibly, the US justice system showed him some leniency and he could be home within a few months.
It has to be said, though, being a nice kid, not looking like a killer and a history of psychiatric problems doesn’t often sway US judges. So what was different about Michael?
Was it the blinding obviousness of his innocence, or something else, that we’ll never find out?
The Dragons' Den invites entrepreneurs to pitch their business ideas to five multimillionaires
Terrifying dolls, drinks with an aftertaste and bike indicators that might not indicate formed part of the forlorn conveyor belt on Dragons’ Den (Sunday, BBC2).
The one the Dragons went to town on wasn’t an invention, it was a concept. “A wellness concept,” clarified its creator, “of advanced anti-ageing cosmeceuticals”.
As several sets of Dragon-eyes grew beady, he went on to talk about “a celebrity focus”, before adding that he “had a letter of intent from a lady in Riyadh”.
Cue much snarling and ripping of flesh. “I apologise if I’ve upset anyone,” were the gentleman’s parting words as he fled the room. It was quite the opposite, the Dragons hadn’t had such fun savaging a concept in ages.