AN ARMED Skegness man who was on the run for a decade after holding his toddler son hostage while on holiday in west Cornwall has finally been convicted.
Paul Muller, 55, fled the Seaview Holiday Park in Sennen with his two-year-old son in 2001 and later sparked a siege on the M4 after local police officers attended the site to talk to him about a custody matter.
He was found guilty by a jury at Truro Crown Court last month of making threats to kill and possessing a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence. At the beginning of the four-day trial he pleaded guilty to a bomb hoax.
The court heard how Muller, who lived in Skegness at the time, had spent about two weeks in the holiday park before Friday, October 19, 2001, when the offences took place.
Three police officers had been tasked to execute a warrant for his arrest and to take his son into custody. But they were forced to withdraw from the mobile home after Muller waved a knife at the officers.
Paul Rowsell, for the prosecution, told the court how Muller had barged through the constables and held a kitchen knife to his son’s throat causing the officers to fear for the child’s life.
Retired Penzance sergeant, Alistair Cook, told the court: “He picked up the young lad, reached to the kitchen sink and picked up a short-handled knife. He held it against his (son’s) throat and said, ‘I got a knife and if you do not get out I will use it’. I thought he might cut his boy’s throat so we left the caravan.”
A couple of minutes later Muller left the site in his camper van and told one of the officers that he would be driving to Lincolnshire where he would contact the press and if he was stopped there would be trouble. Mr Rowsell said: “He pulled in the palm of his hand a small black handgun.”
A chase involving police officers from three different forces, an Army bomb disposal unit and trained negotiators commenced.
About an hour later Muller pulled up at a service station to refuel the camper. There he told another motorist, Andrew Cocker, that he was under a siege and that police were following him.
Mr Cocker told the court: “He pulled the child away from his body and showed me a gun. He said to let the police know he was armed.”
In the early hours of Saturday morning his van came to a halt on the hard shoulder of the M4 in Wiltshire after Muller ran out of petrol.
At 9pm on Saturday, October 20, Muller became very emotional and told a negotiator that he was in the possession of an instant-acting detonator and that he would “blow up the van”.
Eventually on Sunday morning, October 21, at 9.22am, Muller, wearing only underpants and long socks, peacefully gave himself up and handed the child to the police.
The siege closed off a 17-mile stretch of the motorway.
In 2002, on the eve of the court case into the matter, Muller went on the run.
After almost a decade evading police capture, he was arrested last year in relation to another matter.
Muller told the court he had left Skegness to go on holiday with his son and that he was unaware of the custody hearing.
He said he had not been convinced that the three men at the door were police officers. He added that he had bought the imitation gun for his security. He will be sentenced in October.