A man who shot a bin man in the face at close range has been given a hospital order under the Mental Health Act.

Luckily, the gun was not loaded but a court heard today how the blast from the gas powered weapon injured bin wagon driver Dave Mason, who was parked in White Horse Avenue.

His attacker, Henry Gaskin, sped off but on the way, a cyclist was knocked off his bike.

Armed police spent four hours looking for Gaskin, 31, and the search took them from Tidings Hill in Halstead to Chapel Hill in Braintree.

Officers found the weapon was a gas-powered imitation Beretta semi-automatic pistol.

A search also revealed Gaskin had small amounts of cannabis and the class B drug methylmethcathinone hydrochloride.

Gaskin, of Halfacre, Long Green, Cressing, admitted possessing an imitation firearm, causing fear of violence against Mr Mason and dangerous driving.

He was given a hospital order when he appeared in court for sentence today.

Judge Christopher Ball QC said psychiatrists had concluded Gaskin was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia.

He was also banned from driving for 12 months and told to take an extended driving test.

Gaskin's lawyer, Evelyn Hicks, told the court he had mental health problems and would benefit from treatment.