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Downfall of a Ninja: Vigilante in black on mission to fight crime with wooden sword and smoke bombs – till armed police and helicopter swoop on him
Tanis Baker, 21, dressed as a ninja to 'strike fear in the hearts of criminalsHe was arrested after officers who spotted him became concernedHe was soon surrounded by armed police, dogs and a helicopter
Two hidden rucksacks containing smokebombs and costumes found after arrest
23:43 GMT, 13 December 2012
Lurking in the shadows in his body armour and balaclava, neighbourhood vigilante and self-styled ninja Tanis Baker considered himself the eyes and ears of the police.
Until, that is, he was spotted loitering in a park by an officer who mistook the black-clad crimebuster’s trusty wooden sword for something more lethal.
Within minutes the officer had called for back-up and – as Baker retreated towards a children’s playground – a police helicopter, armed officers and dog handlers were all scrambled.
Superhero: How Baker might have looked when he was arrested while dressed as a vigilante ninja
Baker – nicknamed the Ringland Ninja by locals in the suburb of Newport, South Wales, where he lives – was eventually found crouching in the bushes.
He then sheepishly led officers to a bag full of smoke bombs which he had stashed nearby, while another bag was found to contain other superhero costumes.
Magistrates were told that when Baker, a barman, was later asked what he would have done if he had encountered a real crime, he admitted he had not thought that far ahead.
Baker, who said he was a fan of comic book heroes including Batman and Superman, admitted having an offensive weapon in a public place after he was arrested over the incident in the town’s Beechwood Park in September.
Comic book fan: Tanis Baker told police he was a vigilante in a ninja costume after police arrested him while armed with a homemade wooden Samurai sword
Cwmbran Magistrates’ Court heard that the defendant – who by day worked behind the bar at a local snooker club – told police he was a ‘vigilante in a costume’ and that he wanted to help people in trouble.
He claimed to be the ‘eyes and ears’ of the police and wanted to strike fear into the hearts of criminals.
The probation officer who assessed him said Baker was a fan of American comic book superheroes.
His probation report said: ‘He seems to get confused between fantasy and reality and sometimes had trouble distinguishing between what was in comic books and what was real life.’
The court heard he had been crouched on top of the park gates in his costume keeping watch for criminals when he was spotted by the police officer who feared he was carrying a samurai sword.
Baker then retreated further into the park and hid in bushes near the children’s play area.
Louise Warren, defending, said: ‘Baker was bullied for many years and struggled growing up in his neighbourhood.
He was attacked by a gang of youths while out with his sister a year ago, but police were unable to find the offenders. Since then Baker has wanted to help the police to protect society.’
She said that, while the offence was carried out in a public place, no one but the police officer involved saw him.
Baker was given a 12-month supervision order and ordered to carry out 60 hours’ unpaid work. He declined to comment after the case.
Paul Lavin, magistrates’ chairman, told him: ‘You may have thought you were helping but you caused a lot of trouble. Do not do this in future or else you’ll be in big trouble.’
Following the court case earlier this year, residents on the Hendre Farm estate said Baker had been dressing up as a ninja warrior ‘for months’ and had previously been spotted perched on the roofs of buildings.
He is the latest in a spate of superhero vigilantes reported to have begun patrolling the streets and open spaces over recent years.
Last year the Devon resort of Torquay was reported to be being protected by not one superhero but two – The Dark Spartan and his sidekick The Black Void.
But after months patrolling on the look-out for crime, they failed to find any and police said they posed a greater danger to themselves than local criminals.
Hi-ya! Mr Tanis said he dressed up as a ninja to 'strike fear' in the hearts of criminals in Newport (picture posed by model)