The British man accused of plotting to shoot Donald Trump explained his actions to his appalled father, saying: “Someone had to stand up for America.”
Michael Sandford made the extraordinary claim came during an emotional meeting at a prison near Las Vegas last week, where he is locked up with Mexican gangsters.
The troubled 20-year-old, who has Asperger’s syndrome, is being held in isolation and is “bewildered, frightened and overwhelmed,” his family have revealed.
In interviews with The Mail on Sunday, his parents told of their disbelief and heartache at their son’s situation.
His mother Lynne said: “He wouldn’t hurt a hair on anybody’s head – everybody has said that.”
“I just want to wrap my arms around him and never let him go.”
She revealed that Michael was detained overnight at a psychiatric hospital in New Jersey after being found “distressed” in a car on the first day of a two-week holiday in January last year.
A few months later, he returned to the US where he has lived ever since.
Last month, after growing increasingly concerned for his welfare, his mother alerted the authorities.
But eight days ago, he was arrested after allegedly trying to grab a policeman’s gun at a Republican Party rally in Las Vegas for the presidential candidate.
According to court papers, Sandford told agents who arrested him that he had planned the assassination for a year and thought he would die in the attempt.
His father Paul Davey, 50, who travelled to the US to speak to his son in jail on Friday, said he was deeply shocked by Michael’s confession.
Paul Davey said: “I asked him what happened and he would only say that if Trump was elected, it would change the world and that somebody had to stand up for America.
“I have never heard him talk like that before. I can’t understand why he was so motivated and politicised that he thought grabbing a gun from a policeman was a good idea.”
The former “top set pupil” from Dorking, Surrey, who dropped out of school aged 15, is now being held in isolation at the Nevada South Detention Center on the outskirts of Las Vegas, where temperatures rose to 109F last week.
Paul Davey, a supermarket department manager from Havant, Hampshire, said, after spending an hour talking to his son that he believes Michael was brainwashed.
“I think the people he met, and was living with, may know what motivated Michael. Did someone start feeding him information? Did they set him up for it? I really think he has been brainwashed.”
Michael’s mother Lynne, 41, who lives in Dorking with his three-year-old half-sister Jessica, desperately wanted to visit her son in prison but had to remain in the UK to look after her daughter.
But she gave her ex-husband a letter to give to Michael which read: “I love you very, very much and my heart is breaking.”
She said she had had serious concerns about him returning to the US but felt powerless to stop him.
“He was determined enough to go and I involved mental-health services and they said the only way [to stop him] would be to declare him mentally incompetent and have him sectioned.”
Last night, she urged the US authorities to let her son return to Britain to receive psychiatric help.
She said: “He’s clearly a very troubled, disturbed person now.”
“He was trembling in shackles in court. He’s frail, he’s thin.
‘What he’s done is completely out of character.
“Every message I’ve had from everybody who has ever known him says what a delightful person he is, how considerate, how charming, how polite. A jail certainly isn’t the best place for him.”
After Sandford was evicted from his apartment in New Jersey in April, his desperate mother tried to find him hostel accommodation and sent him money, but became increasingly concerned when his calls home became sporadic.
Paul Davey spoke to his son by video-link in jail.
“The first thing I said to him was, ‘Thanks for the unusual Father’s Day present’ – I got the call he was in jail on Father’s Day – and he said, ‘Sorry about that but Happy Father’s Day anyway.’
“He told me he had been kept in segregation in the prison for his own safety, but that he wanted to be put in cells with the others.
“At the moment he is stuck in there 22 hours a day. He has had no contact with anyone apart from ten minutes with a lawyer when he appeared at that first hearing.
“He said he doesn’t even know what the charges against him are. He told me he was finding it hard and he was scared.
“He is bewildered and overwhelmed, especially because of his autism. He said he wants to come back home but I had to give him a reality check. I told him it was unlikely he’d get out any time soon.”
Source: New York Post