TWO men and their driver were arrested by armed police after being spotted with an imitation handgun at a York restaurant.

Officers were called to the Red Chilli Chinese restaurant in George Hudson Street just after 4pm yesterday, after a man saw two smartly-dressed men at a table with a silver handgun between them.

Plain clothed officers attended, and watched as the men got into a silver Volkswagen Polo, driven by a third man, before heading towards Leeman Road.

Police and an armed response unit followed the vehicle along the A59 to Kirk Hammerton, where they felt it could be stopped without putting any members of the public at risk.

The three men were arrested at gunpoint and police recovered what turned out to be an imitation .44 Magnum hand gun from the passenger footwell of the car along with six rounds of ammunition, all of which had been bought from a shop in York earlier that day.

All three were taken into police custody for questioning, and were later released.

An 18-year-old man was cautioned for possessing an air weapon in a public place, a 17-year-old was given a youth reprimand for the same offence, and a 31-year-old man was released without further action.

Inspector Allan Wescott, of York police, said: “Although there was no real danger to the public in this instance, it is very easy for things to turn out much differently.”