Kent architecture

Architect suspended after brandishing handgun online with salesman

An architect has been suspended from the profession after brandishing a fake gun and threatening to shoot a door-to-door salesman.

Martin Belt confronted the energy company representative with a realistic handgun and threatened to shoot him if he returned to his property.

The salesman had no idea the gun was disabled and was so scared he “feared for his life”.

Now Belt, a 25-year-old architect who ran his own business, has been suspended for 12 months following an architects registration board [ARB] court.

Belt – who collected air rifles – was at home in the coastal town of Bridlington, East Yorks, when the young seller visited on May 22, 2019.

An ARB court report said: “Belt was involved in a confrontation with a door-to-door salesman outside his property.

“He came out of his property with a fake handgun and threatened to shoot the man if he returned.”

Belt claimed he believed the salesman who was trying to scam elderly people on the street, according to court reports.

Belt said he got into this situation because he was moving guns upstairs in the house.

The ARB report said: “He testified that events did not unfold as alleged and that he made no threats.

“Belt explained how he ended up on the street with a disabled ‘BB’ gun and said it was in his back pocket because he was about to carry other weapons upstairs and he had his hands full.”

Belt, then 53, was jailed for 18 months at Hull Crown Court in November 2020, after being found guilty by jurors of possessing a firearm with intent to cause fear or violence.

But the ARB panel concluded that Belt’s conduct – which occurred in front of his 15-year-old daughter – does not warrant the ban, although it “brings the profession into disrepute”.

Belt complained that he found it “very difficult to live with his belief because it did not reflect the person he was” and that it was “life changing”.

In conclusion, the ARB panel said: “The panel found that the conviction demonstrated that Belt initiated a confrontation and that he carried with him a firearm which caused fear in a member of the public doing his sales work from home.

“The committee felt that the conduct could be corrected and Belt began to show insight into certain aspects.

“The panel does not consider Belt to have any ingrained integrity issues or that the conduct is fundamentally inconsistent with his continuing to be a registered architect.

“The committee does not consider that Belt is incapable of appreciating the nature of his failings such that he should be expunged from the record.”

Belt also made ‘serious’ failures to communicate with a client in 2019 and 2020, leaving them ‘in the dark’ and ‘out of pocket’ after shelling out £1,600 in fees, the panel heard.