Police were called after a man was spotted in the café at Royal Blackburn Hospital with what appeared to be a handgun.

Blackburn Magistrates' Court heard tactical armed officers were deployed to the hospital where one of them overpowered Ninian Reed.

He was found to be in possession of a BB gun and a kitchen knife.

Reed, 59, of Ravenglass Close,  Blackburn, pleaded guilty to possession of a knife and an imitation firearm in public.

He was remanded on bail for the preparation of a pre-sentence report.

A condition of bail is that he does not enter Royal Blackburn Hospital except in a genuine emergency.

Glenn Anderton, prosecuting, said a member of the public had seen Reed with what they believed was a firearm.

Officers cordoned off the area and one of them approached Reed.

"At that point the weapon was not visible but the defendant had his hand behind his back," said Mr Anderton.

"The officer engaged with him and then quickly closed on him and took hold of his arm. He was detained and the imitation firearm and the knife were found on him."

Mr Anderton said Reed had no previous convictions but there had been previous reports of him being in possession of a knife or some other weapon.

On one occasion he was in a betting shop and told staff he had a gun and was going to harm himself.

"He showed staff the weapon," said Mr Anderton. "On another occasion he contacted the police making threats to kill someone he claimed had stolen his cat.

Jonathan Taylor, mitigating, said, as his client told the police, he had forgotten he had the weapon in his pocket.

He said he had an interest in BB guns and was going to show it to the son of a friend who shared his interest.

"He only took the weapon out of his pocket so he could get a sandwich out," said Mr Taylor.

"He put it on his knee while he removed the sandwich and then put it back. The knife never came out of his pocket."