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Radcliffe-on-Trent man jailed after appearance at Nottingham Crown Court for possession of gun and threatening to derail Network Rail trains

A man who threatened to derail trains and was found in possession of a gun and ammunition has been jailed.

Rikki Mistretta, 37, formerly of Addington Court, Radcliffe-on-Trent, was sentenced to five years imprisonment by Judge William Harbage at Nottingham Crown Court yesterday (Wednesday, March 27).

Mistretta had pleaded guilty to sending Network Rail a threatening message, possession of a handgun and possession of ammunition, and had been remanded into custody prior to his appearance.

Nottingham Crown Court.
Nottingham Crown Court.

The court heard he called Network Rail’s helpline while intoxicated on June 24, 2023, to make a complaint.

He became frustrated, threatened to weld a metal wedge onto the tracks, and said: “I’d quite happily see one of those big trains derail… I don’t care about the drivers.”

When the call handler asked if he was making a threat, Mistretta confirmed he was and that it was “imminent”.

On August 25, 2023, police officers attended his home address to arrest him, and searched the property.

In his bedroom they found a pistol, ammunition and a propane blowtorch.

The pistol, Mistretta had asserted throughout the process, was not his and he had been looking after it for someone else and had forgotten he had it under his bed. He also was said to not believe it was capable of firing.

There was no suggestion he had used the weapon or had any intention to do so, the court heard.

Investigations found the weapon was a 9mm blank firing pistol which had been converted to allow it to fire rounds. The ammunition found with it was eight 9mm rounds which had been modified to add a led projectile.

The pistol and ammunition were not compatible — but the Judge noted other ammunition could be used in the gun with “lethal effects”.

The prosecution barrister outlined Mistretta’s previous convictions.

In 2016 he was convicted for criminal damage related to a driving offence, in 2018 false representation and in 2022 he was fined for a common assault.

Summing up, Judge Harbage said: “I don’t regard them as relevant to this offence.”

Speaking on behalf of Mistretta, the defence barrister outlined his guilty pleas, and noted he had sent “letters of regret” to National Rail.

The barrister said he takes the matter “extremely seriously” and expressed “regret and remorse”.

He also considered Mistretta’s mental health and “vulnerabilities” — noting his ADHD, depressive periods and anxiety from the psychological report.

The barrister claimed the defendant “struggles” in prison due to his immediate reactions sparking some conflict, but since he was remanded to custody had focused on education and assisted other prisoners to do the same.

He added: “He has skills, he has good intentions.”

Sentencing, Judge Harbage said the gun had “no lawful purpose” and was likely to be used for criminal activity which Mistretta had no control of when it was out of his care.

The minumum sentence of five years for the offence was imposed, while the ammunition attracted a further six months, to be served concurrently.

Considering the threat to Network Rail, the Judge said: “You described it as a stupid thing to do — it undoubtedly was.”

He passed a four month sentence for the offense, to be served concurrently to the imprisonment for the possession offences, taking into account Mistretta’s apologies and guilty plea.

The gun and ammunition are to be forfeited but not destroyed, and Mistretta must serve half his sentence before being released on license with conditions.

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