Late-night phone call led to armed siege in village

ALERT A row over benefits sparked these scenes in Selborne
ALERT A row over benefits sparked these scenes in Selborne

Purse thief fined £100

Have your say

A BUILDER has apologised for making threatening phone calls that led to a five-hour stand-off with police.

Anthony Betsworth, 54, who runs a building firm with his dad on Hayling Island, said he regretted making the offensive phone calls which led to armed police descending on a village earlier this year.

Betsworth said he had made the drunken calls to a postmaster, David Buckland, after believing that he had been reported to the authorities as a benefits cheat – a claim which proved to be unfounded.

Basingstoke Magistrates’ Court heard that during one phone call, made at about 1am on March 13, Betsworth said: ‘You and me – one on one.

‘Just my feet and hands using what I have learnt over the years.’

At about 5am, armed police surrounded Betsworth’s bungalow in Selborne, an historic village north of Petersfield.

Police sealed off a six-mile stretch of the B3006 – a busy commuter route – until Betsworth surrendered at about 10am.

Betsworth was initially charged with threatening to kill following the incident, but this charge was dropped.

He pleaded guilty to sending two offensive messages and was sentenced to a community order of 12 months.

After the case, he told The News of the moment police surrounded his home.

He said: ‘The first thing I knew there was a laser shining through the window.

‘I just hit the deck.

‘The phone rang and big lights were coming through everywhere.

‘I thought it would be safer to wait until morning to walk out because I wouldn’t have been the first person that has got shot dead.

‘It was very scary. It was like an American show. Why they couldn’t have just sent a police van round and knocked on the door is a mystery.’

He said he was angry with Mr Buckland, who owns Selborne Village Shop, after believing he had reported him to the Department for Work and Pensions.

Betsworth had signed-on for a short time.

Betsworth, whose long-running family business is based in Fathoms Reach, said inspectors visited.

He said: ‘My mum has always done the books.

‘They went through everything. My parents found it very disturbing. It was a completely unfounded and false allegation.’

He added: ‘It was a very stupid thing to do. I would not have done it unless I was drinking.’


ANTHONY Betsworth faces jail if he gets in contact with David Buckland or his wife.

Magistrates imposed a restraining order on Betsworth.

Gordon Griffin, chairman of the bench, said: ‘If by chance you see them in a small place like Selborne, make sure you walk away.’

The News called Selborne Village Shop, but Mr Buckland was unavailable for comment.

Betsworth must also pay £200 compensation, a £60 victim surcharge and £85 costs.