A MAN was today due to appear in court following a three-hour stand-off with police which caused chaos in Portsmouth city centre.
The man, named locally as Toby Maylott, aged 20, has been charged with threatening a number of people with a knife in a public place, affray and with assaulting a man aged in his 40s by throwing an alcohol gel bottle.
He was due to appear at Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court today.
The incident took place at the Virgin Media store in Commercial Road.
It began at around midday on Saturday with armed police officers being called in and a police helicopter circling the area, while crowds of people watched.
Shops were closed and an area was cordoned off as police negotiators were called in to try and calm the man down and resolve the situation peacefully, after he barricaded himself in the building and refused to leave.
Leah FieldingIt’s scary that it happened in broad daylight on a Saturday afternoon
At about 3pm, he was seen being put in the back of a police van and crowds of people cheered as he was led away.
Sandra Churcher, who runs a refreshments stall in Commercial Road, said: ‘This sort of thing just doesn’t happen around here.
‘I think that’s why it got so many people’s attention. I was shocked. It was all a bit alarming.’
Leah Fielding, 21, from Southsea, said: ‘It’s scary that it happened in broad daylight on a Saturday afternoon.
‘I saw all these police cars and a police helicopter. I’ve never seen anything like this.’
A stallholder, who didn’t want to be named, added: ‘It’s been bedlam.
‘We saw the armed police going in. It’s shocking. I have never known anything like this to happen before. There have been crowds of people asking questions.’
Julie Whitelock, 52, from North End, was shopping on Saturday afternoon. She said: ‘I have lived here all my life but nothing has ever gone on down here. It’s frightening.’
Stallholder Graham Thearle added: ‘We saw the police running up with guns and a police dog. There was a helicopter above.
‘It’s been chaotic here. It’s been more like Christmas with the crowds we have been seeing.’
A knife was recovered by police at the scene.
Cordons were put in place as a precaution for public safety but they were lifted at about 3pm.
Firefighters and paramedics were also called in.
Police said there were no injuries apart from a man in his 40s who received a cut to the head after an alcohol gel bottle was thrown at him.
Hampshire Constabulary has thanked members of the public and businesses in Commercial Road for co-operation and patience during the incident.